Hybrid RF/VLC Systems: A Comprehensive Survey on Network Topologies, Performance Analyses, Applications, and Future Directions

Hisham Abuella, Mohammed Elamassie, Murat Uysal, Zhengyuan Xu, Erchin Serpedin, Khalid A. Qaraqe, Sabit Ekin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wireless communications refer to data transmissions in unguided propagation media through the use of wireless carriers such as radio frequency (RF) and visible light (VL) waves. The rising demand for high data rates, especially, in indoor scenarios, overloads conventional RF technologies. Therefore, technologies such as millimeter waves (mmWave) and cognitive radios have been adopted as possible solutions to overcome the spectrum scarcity and capacity limitations of the conventional RF systems. In parallel, visible light communication (VLC) has been proposed as an alternative solution, where a light source is used for both illumination and data transmission. In comparison to RF links, VLC links present a very high bandwidth that allows much higher data rates. VLC exhibits also immunity to interference from electromagnetic sources, has unlicensed channels, is a very low power consumption system, and has no health hazard. VLC is appealing for a wide range of applications including reliable communications with low latency such as vehicle safety communication. Despite the major advantages of VLC technology and a variety of its applications, its use has been hampered by its cons such as its dependence on a line of sight connectivity. Recently, hybrid RF/VLC systems were proposed to take advantage of the high capacity of VLC links and better connectivity of RF links. Thus, hybrid RF/VLC systems are envisioned as a key enabler to improve the user rates and mobility on one hand and to optimize the capacity, interference and power consumption of the overall network on the other hand. This paper seeks to provide a detailed survey of hybrid RF/VLC systems. This paper represents an overview of the current developments in the hybrid RF/VLC systems, their benefits and limitations for both newcomers and expert researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160402-160436
Number of pages35
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2021


  • Radio frequency (RF)
  • hybrid RF/VLC
  • hybrid RF/VLC environments
  • hybrid networks
  • visible light communication (VLC)
  • wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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