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VLC vs RF | difference between VLC and RF Communication

This page compares VLC vs RF and describes basic difference between VLC and RF Communication types. VLC stands for Visible Light Communication and RF stands for Radio Frequency. Basic comparison between VLC communication and RF communication are also derived.

Both VLC and RF communication technologies are used for wide variety of applications for wireless communication. VLC uses light as medium for communication where as RF uses EM waves. Let us understand them individually before we derive difference between them.

VLC Communication

Following are the features of VLC communication.
• It uses wavelength range from 380 nm to 750 nm (i.e. frequency range from 430 THz to 790 THz) for communication.
• Data to be transmitted is modulated before transmission by modulating the light. PA (Power Amplifier) is not needed unlike RF communication.
• LEDs and lasers are used as transmitter or source. Photodiode detectors are used as receivers.
• Example application: LiFi tutorial >>

VLC spectrum,RF spectrum

RF Communication

Following are the features of RF communication.
• It uses frequency range from 3KHz to 300 MHz in RF band and 300 MHz to 300 GHz in microwave band as shown in the figure-1.
• Data to be transmitted is modulated before transmission by various analog/digital modulation techniques. Analog modulation techniques include AM, FM, PM etc. Digital modulation techniques include ASK, FSK, PSK, BPSK, QPSK, 16QAM etc.
• Electromagnetic transmitter and receiver are used along with antenna for transmission and reception purposes. PA (Power Amplifier) is used at transmitter in order to compensate for path losses.
• Example applications: WiFi, GSM, Zigbee, satellite etc.

Compare VLC vs RF | Table of Comparison between VLC and RF

Following table compares VLC vs RF and derives difference between VLC and RF communication types with respect to various features.

Feature VLC RF
Full form Visible Light Communication Radio Frequency
EM Interference VLC communication is not affected due to EM sources. RF communication is affected due to EM sources.
Power Consumption Less, It is power efficient system. High, It is power inefficient system.
Bandwidth High Low
Security concern It provides secured communication due to LOS (Line Of Sight) communication within the room. It does not provide secured communication as RF signal penetrate walls and can be intruded by some one from the other room.
Health risk No health risks involved in VLC based wireless communication. RF communication is harmful when high power is used for transmission.
Installation Easier Medium to hard, depends on indoor/outdoor applications.
Need for PA (Power Amplifier) Not required Required
Coverage distance Short Medium
Visibility Yes No

Conclusion of VLC vs. RF: Both VLC and RF communications coexist together due to their unique features for communication. For example, VLC is ideal for short distance where as RF is ideal for long distance communication. VLC is ideal for indoor application where as RF is ideal for indoor/outdoor communication depending upon technologies such as wifi, gsm, satellite etc. They are complementary technologies used together for data communication.

LiFi and WiFi Related Links

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Data Over Light basics mentioning how Li-Fi works
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LiFi tutorial

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