Visible Light Communications (VLC) and Powerline Communications (PLC) are two interesting communication technologies that have potential synergies. Over the past couple of years PLC through the HomePlug standard has emerged as a reliable wired Ethernet alternative. The advantages over CAT 5/6 cabling are obvious in that no new cables are required; the existing mains power cables being used instead. The reliability of PLC has improved significantly and claims to be more stable than WiFi while offering higher data rates over a wider distribution area.
However, WiFi does have a significant advantage over PLC in that there are no wired connections to devices, and for a growing number of devices this is important. If we consider PLC combined with VLC we may benefit from the mains infrastructure for the backhaul and use the VLC for wireless connection to devices. Instead of adding the PLC to the mains power circuits, it is applied to the mains lighting circuits instead.
VLC and PLC can be implemented in a single chip solution so there is great potential for a low cost VLC/PLC implementation or even single chip integration. Both technologies provide the potential for Gigabit communications at a lower cost and with higher security compared with WiFi. In the same way as WiFi is complementary to Ethernet, I would argue that VLC is highly complementary to PLC.