In a joint project, the network specialist Nokia Bell Labs and the lighting specialist Osram investigated, how ceiling lights in interiors can build a tightly meshed radio network that is 5G-capable.
"Our office and industrial lights are networked for control anyway," says Thorsten Müller, Head of Innovation at Osram. "For the development project we have equipped them with special broadband radio modules. Mobile devices such as mobile phones or laptops can connect to the network of lights and transmit data using it." Compared to conventional Wi-Fi systems, the new solution is easier to install and allows for additional applications.
Ceiling lights are installed closely meshed in every building and can be connected to a future lighting control and network management system in offices and industrial buildings. This system only needs to be connected to the communication access line of the building, such as a fiber optic connection. In addition, the tightly and evenly spaced installation of the light sources prevents dead spots in the building.
5G networks, a development of LTE (4G) networks, allow faster data transmissions of up to 20 gigabits per second with the appropriate end devices. Due to the frequencies used, reception within buildings is usually limited, so that separate indoor networks are predestined for a seamless mobile internet connection. Test installations with prototypes of the newly developed radio lights have shown that a data throughput of well over 100 Mbps is reliably available, even with low-cost Wi-Fi transmitters in the 2.4 GHz band. More complex radio modules, which combine multiple radio bands and operate several channels simultaneously, currently allow speeds just below the gigabit range. With 5G technology, which uses wider radio bands and can also transmit more data in them, the solution can achieve several gigabits per second.
The newly developed wireless lights can be integrated as an additional sensor data source in Lightelligence, the platform for the Internet of Things (IoT) recently introduced by Osram. All smart components, applications and programs can be bundled in Lightelligence. This creates new applications and services that go far beyond light. For example, sensor-based logistics solutions from Osram in warehouse buildings use the light-infrastructure to record inventories, optimize warehouse use or monitor the indoor climate for perishable goods. The system is open for the integration of products, programs and interfaces of all manufacturers.