OCC Standardization Roadmap

OWC Standards under IEEE 802

There are IEEE standards covering the optical spectrum,

OCC modes are particularly within the IEEE 802.15.7m standard, which is planned to be published in 2018.

Introduction of IEEE 802.15.7m

Visible light communication (VLC) systems were introduced many years ago. However, recent advances in the lighting system, such as light-emitting diode (LED) technology, has significantly improved the speed and the lifespan of VLC systems, reviving interest in their use. In 2004, high-speed communication using photodiodes was first demonstrated in Japan. There, four years later, one of the first standardizations related to the VLC technology was released, titled as visible light communications consortium (VLCC). The optical spectrum has attracted even more interest since the IEEE Standards Association published its VLC technology standard in 2011. Despite the rapid proliferation of OWC, commercialization has been slow in the absence of a killer app.

Recently, the broad market potential and the feasibility of light-based wireless communication have again been addressed. PureLiFi (UK) and Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (Germany) have expressed interest in developing high-speed networks and small-cell mobile wireless communication. Intel (USA) has developed a killer app for OWC in the automotive industry. Panasonic (Japan) plans to open a service for OWC technology known as online-to-offline marketing. Casio (Japan), Huawei Technologies (China), ETRI and LG Electronics (both in Korea), and China Telecom (China) have all professed interest in these technologies and are developing their own variants. Industrial experts have collaborated with academic researchers from multiple countries (including Turkey, South Korea, USA, Taiwan, and China), forming a consortium to revise the 802.15.7-2011 standard. This collaboration, called the IEEE 802.15.7m OWC task group (TG7m), has announced its intention to develop technical specifications since 2014. Now that the inherited achievement of technology meets the market demand, the commercialization of OWC technology is to promote.

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Figure 1 – IEEE 802.15.7m Task Group timeline summary

Scope and Timeline of IEEE 802.15.7m


The TG7m optical spectrum covers the infrared (700–1000 nm wavelengths), ultraviolet (100–400 nm wavelengths), and visible light (400–700 nm wavelengths). TG7m has witnessed several technical contributions with various OWC solutions:

  • OCC (Optical Camera Communication): Baseband modulation techniques supporting cameras or image sensors, namely image sensor communication (ISC).
  • LED-ID (LED Identification): Low-rate photodiode (PD) communication techniques with data rates below 1 Mbps at the physical layer service access point (PHY SAP).
  • LiFi (Light Fidelity): High-rate PD communication techniques with data rates exceeding 1 Mbps at the PHY SAP. These technologies utilize orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (Optical OFDM) modulations.

Note: Recently in May 2017, PHYs VII and VIII (LiFi modes) within the draft 802.15.7m standard have been moved to form a new Task Group under IEEE 802.15 due to the uniqueness between OCC/LED-ID and LiFi technologies and the market potential relevance. The new LiFi Task Group is known as TG13 Multi-Gigabit/s OWC. Therefore, the latest IEEE 802.15.7m draft covers VLC, OCC and LED-ID PHY modes.


The official TG7m web page reports the current progress of the standard. Further information is available online. Notably, the draft standard is expected to be ready for letter balloting by December 2017, and (hopefully) the standard will be published in 2018. Latest updates on the milestones and schedule are available online.

Here are some highlighted dates for someone who does not want to click the links (just like me).

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Figure 2 – Timeline for IEEE TG7m 2017 meetings

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Figure 3 – Timeline for IEEE TG7m 2018 meetings


The IEEE 802.15.7m standard about Optical Wireless Communication is expected to publish by the end of 2018. The upcoming time from 2019 onwards will be a run of commercial products releasing and market acceptance. Among IEEE 802.15.7m Task Group members, Intel and Panasonic are our hope to bring the standard successfully to real life. Besides, the number of other companies getting interested in OCC keeps increasing. A bright future for OCC is predictable.

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