The answer to life, the universe and everything might be 42, but I will use some “pseudo mathematics” in this post to show that the VLC opportunity equates to 10,000!
Here we go,
- There are approximately 1.4 million cellular base station masts worldwide (Masts).
- There are approximately 14 billion light bulbs in the world (Bulbs).
Each light bulb represents a future opportunity to introduce VLC technology and turn each light bulb into a miniature base stations (no mast required). I therefore suggest that the VLC opportunity (VLC) can be calculated as:
Now lets consider the opportunity from another dimension, that of the available spectrum. Wireless radio transmission uses frequencies from a few kHz up to 10s of GHz. If we don’t consider fixed satellite links as wireless (no mobility) then wireless communications extends up to about 40GHz. So:
- Wireless radio bandwidth ~ 40GHz (Radio)
Now consider the visible light spectrum which extends from 400THz to 790THz. So:
- Visible bandwidth ~ (790-400)THz = 390THz (Visible)
Therefore the VLC opportunity in terms of available bandwidth can be calculated as:
So the opportunity of using VLC can be considered to be four orders of magnitude greater than alternatives when measured in terms of access points relative to cellular access points, or when measured in terms of the available bandwidth relative to radio. Of course the key message is not really that VLC=10,000, it is that the opportunity for VLC is immense, but the real challenge may lie in making VLC access points 10,000 times cheaper than a cellular base station. However, if you consider that the average cellular base station might cost $10,000, this challenge does look realistic.