DOI: 10.3390/s23177545 ISSN:

A Review of Hybrid VLC/RF Networks: Features, Applications, and Future Directions

Lisandra Bravo Alvarez, Samuel Montejo-Sánchez, Lien Rodríguez-López, Cesar Azurdia-Meza, Gabriel Saavedra
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Instrumentation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Analytical Chemistry

The expectation for communication systems beyond 5G/6G is to provide high reliability, high throughput, low latency, and high energy efficiency services. The integration between systems based on radio frequency (RF) and visible light communication (VLC) promises the design of hybrid systems capable of addressing and largely satisfying these requirements. Hybrid network design enables complementary cooperation without interference between the two technologies, thereby increasing the overall system data rate, improving load balancing, and reducing non-coverage areas. VLC/RF hybrid networks can offer reliable and efficient communication solutions for Internet of Things (IoT) applications such as smart lighting, location-based services, home automation, smart healthcare, and industrial IoT. Therefore, hybrid VLC/RF networks are key technologies for next-generation communication systems. In this paper, a comprehensive state-of-the-art study of hybrid VLC/RF networks is carried out, divided into four areas. First, indoor scenarios are studied considering lighting requirements, hybrid channel models, load balancing, resource allocation, and hybrid network topologies. Second, the characteristics and implementation of these hybrid networks in outdoor scenarios with adverse conditions are analyzed. Third, we address the main applications of hybrid VLC/RF networks in technological, economic, and socio-environmental domains. Finally, we outline the main challenges and future research lines of hybrid VLC/RF networks.

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