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In this paper, we propose a novel architecture for hybrid radio frequency (RF)/free-space optics (FSO) wireless systems. Hybrid RF/FSO systems are attractive since the RF and FSO sub-systems are affected differently by weather and fading phenomena. For example, while 60-GHz RF systems are susceptible to rain, fog is detrimental to FSO systems. We show that a hybrid system robust to these impairments is obtained by joint bit-interleaved coded modulation (BICM) of the bit steams transmitted over the RF and FSO sub-channels. An asymptotic performance analysis reveals that a properly designed convolutional code can exploit the diversity offered by the independent sub-channels. Furthermore, we develop code design and power assignment criteria and provide an efficient code search procedure. The cut-off rate of the proposed hybrid system is also derived and compared to that of hybrid systems with perfect channel state information at the transmitter. Simulation results show that hybrid RF/FSO systems with BICM outperform previously proposed hybrid systems employing a simple repetition code and selection diversity.
Date of Publication: December 2009