LED lighting has distinct benefits. The bulbs are low energy and cut your fuel bills. They last for up to 50,000 hours, so you may only have to change them every 25 years or so. And unlike fluorescent lighting, LEDs don’t contain mercury, which makes the bulbs good for the environment.

But another major LED benefit has appeared. And it’s one you might never have expected. According to scientists, LED bulbs can provide wireless connections to the Internet at the speed of light.

Standard wireless Internet connections rely on radio waves. These work well enough but there are problems. Neighbours can pick up your wireless radio waves and use your Internet connection. And some areas such as hospitals and planes don’t install Wi-Fi in case the radio waves interfere with essential equipment. LED light solves these issues and improves connection speeds.

Visible-frequency wireless signals are faster than radio waves for Internet connections. The signals work when the lighting in a room flickers quickly. Fluorescent lighting and incandescent bulbs can’t flicker fast enough to achieve this. But LEDs can. What’s more, LEDs can flicker so fast, the human eye doesn’t notice.

LED bulbs can therefore create the visible-frequency signals for a wireless Internet connection. Even standard LED bulbs can do this, although scientists have developed special LED bulbs to boost the speed of wireless signals even further.

To pick up a visible-frequency wireless signal, you need a photo diode for your laptop. This acts as a wireless receiver. The diode draws in LED light and converts it to a signal the laptop recognises.

  • Thanks to LED lighting, next generation wireless Internet can transmit at high speeds. These can be up to ten times faster than broadband.
  • The technology filters out ambient light sources such as the sun. This means LED bulbs can send wireless signals day or night.
  • You can use LED wireless Internet in places where safety concerns restrict radio waves. LED bulbs can enable wireless Internet connections in planes and hospitals.
  • Problems with neighbours using your wireless Internet become a thing of the past. A wireless computer user must be in the same room as the LED lighting.

The benefits of LED lighting are gaining momentum. What could be next? LED bulbs with artificial intelligence, perhaps? Although this might give LEDs the capacity to take over the world …

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