On VLC as a 5G Technology

Thomas DC Little, Boston University, and NSF ERC for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications


Visible Light Communication (VLC) is an intriguing technology that has received substantial recent attention in the research community for its ability to realize new spectrum, increase security, and support novel light-based applications. But it does not exist in a vacuum; competing sensing and communication techniques exist in the RF world that compete for similar performance objectives. Of the many ways to use VLC, we focus on VLC as an indoor wireless access medium, and increasingly, how VLC can be adopted as part of the ā€œ5Gā€ vision.

In this talk we describe the properties of VLC that make it suitable as a 5G technology, including the ability to realize small cells, dense networking, and high user locality. We also describe some of the remaining challenges to adoption. Finally, we demonstrate how RF and VLC can coexist, realizing the strengths of both media, partnering to keep up with the insatiable demand for more data connectivity.


Thomas DC Little is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University. He is Associate Director of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA), a collaboration of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of New Mexico, and Boston University. His recent efforts address research in pervasive computing using wireless technologies. This includes video streaming, optical communications with the visible spectrum, and applications related to ecological sensing, vehicular networks, and wireless healthcare. Dr. Little received his BS degree in biomedical engineering from RPI in 1983, and his MS degree in electrical engineering and PhD degree in computer engineering from Syracuse University in 1989 and 1991. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE, a member of the IEEE Computer and Communications Societies and a member of the Association for Computing Machinery.