Wireless connectivity through cellular and Wi-Fi networks is indispensable for today’s IT environments. What if you could get speeds that are a 100 times faster than traditional Wi-Fi connections? Would you be interested in investing in such futuristic technology? This conversation between Anuj Dhir, vice president and business head, commercial lighting business, Wipro Enterprise Limited, and Nimeesh Kumar of electronicsforu.com, explores the opportunities for Li-Fi technology in India and Asia.
EB: What exactly is Li-Fi technology? What are the business opportunities for it in India and Asia?
Li-Fi is a high-speed, bi-directional, fully networked, wireless communication that uses visible light rather than radio frequencies. It can offer significantly greater security, data speeds and densities to support more robust and reliable wireless networks that complement and enhance existing cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Li-Fi is likely to open up avenues for the services business model such as LaaS (Lighting as a Service), which will bundle lighting and bandwidth.
Wipro Lighting has partnered with pureLiFi – a global provider of Li-Fi technology—to develop applications for the Asian wireless communications and lighting markets. Wipro Lighting has been an active promoter of this technology on its Internet of Lighting (IoL) platform; it is exploring various business segments where this technology can penetrate further.
Multinational IT companies, in particular, need tremendous data bandwidth. The use of Li-Fi enhances the user experience with light being used to transmit data, powering this industry’s growing demand for connectivity. Li-Fi networks for daily work, conference streaming and remote desktops can provide an enhanced user experience with robust security. The directionality of light propagation can effectively reduce interference in heavily populated offices. Wireless off-loading to Li-Fi releases spectrum for connecting other devices.
EB: Which sectors do you foresee adopting Li-Fi technology?
Li-Fi offers an unprecedented opportunity for connectivity within hospitals and healthcare facilities. With Li-Fi, there is no electromagnetic interference and therefore it does not interfere with medical instruments, nor is its performance affected by MRI scanners.
In the defence and banking sectors, Li-Fi applications ensure secure communications due to the intrinsically safe nature of transmitting data using light. Additionally, it also has an ability to apply different security levels to individual lights or a group of lights, allowing for very sophisticated geo-fencing.
In the future, Li-Fi can benefit smart cities in a big way. Streetlights, building lights, and transportation lighting will be able to communicate wirelessly. Li-Fi has the potential to reduce the congestion on public wireless networks by becoming an offloading facility for radio frequencies.
The next few years will witness Li-Fi not only providing high speed, secure and reliable wireless communications in the transport sector, but also enabling vehicle-to-vehicle communications. Li-Fi is well suited for aviation too – again, the use of the visible light spectrum means there will be no electromagnetic interference with the airplane’s crucial instruments. The cabin’s lighting system could also deliver in-flight entertainment (IFE), duty-free shopping and other communication services. Li-Fi enables business analytics across all the above mentioned segments, where high speed connectivity as well as lighting play crucial roles.
EB: What are the sales and marketing strategies to tap this opportunity?
We have established a dedicated team of sales and marketing professionals who understand the upcoming technologies and will be working on the smart and connected lighting projects. The same team is exploring avenues where Li-Fi technology can be effectively put into place.
Our signature event, Light Shows, which is running this year across all the metros and major second tier cities in India, is based on the new technology called Internet of Lighting. At this event, we have a full-fledged setup to educate prospective customers about how Li-Fi technology works, as well as its features and benefits.
EB: Who do you see as your key customers for this technology?
Like with any new technology, the progressive customers who are keen on the early adoption of new technologies and trends are our key target customers.
EB: What is the role of channel partners or systems integrators in your plans?
Our existing network of channel partners across India is fully equipped to create awareness and generate interest in the market about Li-Fi technology, enabling new business in this emerging segment.
EB: What is the role of architects and other influencers in this ecosystem?
Architects and project consultants have always shown great interest in Li-Fi and played a significant role in popularising Wipro Lighting products. The involvement of architects is high from the design and aesthetics perspective of the workspace. The role of IoT (Internet of Things) consultants, in particular, is moderate to high. They are chiefly responsible for bringing in new technology into modern workspaces and, at the same time, it’s their responsibility to make sure their recommendations are energy efficient and sustainable.
EB: What is the structure of the team at Wipro Lighting that taps this market?
We have established a dedicated team of sales, marketing, quality and service professionals who understand the upcoming technologies and will be catering to the smart and connected lighting projects. The same team is exploring avenues where Li-Fi technology can be effectively put into place. With 19 branches across India, catering to our customers’ needs, we are well-equipped to provide Li-Fi technology and related services in the country.
EB: What are the plans for investing in R&D and product development?
Research and product development are ongoing processes. Wipro Lighting is committed to innovation and improvement in order to bring out the best quality products and services to its customers. We have a dedicated team focused on research and product development to help Li-Fi technology become popular in India and Asia.
EB: What message would you like to convey to senior decision makers amongst enterprise and SME customers?
As a leader in LED lighting solutions, we need to ensure we are providing our customers with the gold standard in lighting innovation. Wipro envisions providing high speed, secure and safe data transmission to its customers with the use of Li-Fi technology.
Our partnership with pureLiFi will provide the platform to ensure we are at the cutting edge of the Li-Fi technology revolution.
While constraints like technology upgrades and capex+opex limit the use of wired connectivity, limited radio frequency spectrum also puts constraints on the increasing demand for ubiquitous connectivity. Moreover, the use of the wireless spectrum increases the licensing costs of spectrum usage for telcos, and the total cost of ownership for the end customer.
Li-Fi technology uses the unregulated spectrum of visible light (380 nm to 750 nm) that does not need licensing, and its adoption over a period of time will bring down the total cost of ownership.