News, Transport

EXCLUSIVE: Paris Metro considers transmitting internet via the lights

Now pulling in to the Paris Metro: Li-Fi. Paris is studying the benefits of using the new LED lights in its stations as internet transmitters. So-called 'Li-Fi' offers many advantages over Wi-Fi.

There’s an old pearl of wisdom that says you should make the most of what you have.

For the Paris Metro and commuter train service, that means possibly doubling up on a quarter of a million new LED lights by using them to transmit the internet to commuters’ computers, phones and tablets via an emerging technology known as Li-Fi, considered by many as superior to Wi-Fi.

Lux has learned that the project manager for the Metro’s massive, ongoing LED upgrade has launched a feasibility study into Li-Fi.

‘It is true, we are starting a study on Li-Fi to define the potential costs and if the deployment would be interesting,’ Gil Riemenschneider told Lux via email, noting that he could say more in the future.

Riemenschneider’s LinkedIn profile describes him as ‘project leader for Li-Fi’ and notes that he has been conducting a ‘study of opportunities of deployment of Li-Fi in the passenger areas of the Paris Metro’ since June.

Riemenschneider has been the project manager on the €11 million ($12 million) scheme to replace all of the 250,000 lights with LEDs at the 302 Metro stations – the Metro is the city’s underground network – and the 66 RER commuter train stations.

That project, funded by the French government’s RATP public transport group, is on target for completion by the middle of next year, Riemenschneider said. If it actually wraps up by then, it would be about six months ahead of the original 2017 target.

Proponents of Li-Fi say that it will add enormous capacity to wireless communications, because the visible light spectrum is 10,000 times larger than the radio frequency spectrum that Wi-Fi uses (see chart below).

Some also note that it will operate much faster than Wi-Fi, and that it will be useful in electromagnetic sensitive areas like hospital, airplanes and nuclear power plants. In one potential application, LED lights in toys could communicate with each other, making the toys interactive.

On the downside, Li-Fi signals do not travel as far as Wi-Fi signals do.

But if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Or so it occurs to the Paris Metro.

Chart is from pureLiFi website

Photo is from Hugo Hebrard


  • A special Lux Lighting for Rail conference is taking place on Thursday 22 June 2016 at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London. Entry is free to specifiers all those responsible for specification, installation and management of railway lighting installation, estates managers and engineers, consulting engineers, energy managers.
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