A plan to turn every lightbulb into an ultra-fast alternative to Wi-Fi

Quartz

Current wireless networks have a problem: The more popular they become, the slower they are. Researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai have just become the latest to demonstrate a technology that transmits data as light instead of radio waves, which gets around the congestion issue and could be ten times faster than traditional Wi-Fi.

In dense urban areas, the range within which Wi-Fi signals are transmitted is increasingly crowded with noise—mostly, other Wi-Fi signals. What’s more, the physics of electromagnetic waves sets an upper limit to the bandwidth of traditional Wi-Fi. The short version: you can only transmit so much data at a given frequency. The lower the frequency of the wave, the less it can transmit.

10x faster connections than Wi-Fi, through the nearest lamp

But what if you could transmit data using waves of much higher frequencies, and without needing a spectrum license from your country’s telecoms…

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