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AbstractThe exponential increase in the number of mobile users, coupled with the strong demand for high-speed data services results in a significant growth in the required cellular backhaul capacity. Optimizing the cost efficiency while increasing the capacity is becoming a key challenge to the cellular backhaul. It refers to connections between base stations and mobile switching nodes over a variety of transport technologies such as copper, optical fibers, and radio links. These traditional transmission technologies are either expensive, or cannot provide high data rates. This work is focused on the opportunities of free-space-optical (FSO) technology in next generation cellular back- haul. FSO is a cost effective and wide bandwidth solution as compared with the traditional radio-frequency (RF) transmission. Moreover, due to its ease of deployment, license-free operation, high transmission security, and insensitivity to interference, FSO links are becoming an attractive solution for next generation cellular networks. However, the widespread deployment of FSO links is hampered by the atmospheric turbulence-induced fading, weather conditions, and pointing errors. Increasing the reliability of FSO systems, while still exploiting their high data rate communications, is a key requirement in the deployment of an FSO-based backhaul. Therefore, the aim of this work is to provide different approaches to address these technical challenges. In this context, investigation of hybrid automatic repeat request (HARQ) protocols from an information-theoretic perspective is undertaken. Moreover, performance analysis of asymmetric RF/FSO dual-hop systems is studied. In such system models, multiple RF users can be multiplexed and sent over the FSO link. More specifically, the end-to-end performance metrics are presented in closed-form. This also has increased the interest to study the performance of dual-hop mixed FSO/RF systems, where the FSO link is used as a multicast channel that serves different RF users. Having such interesting results motivates further the analysis of dual-hop FSO fixed-gain relaying communication systems, and exact closed-form performance metrics are presented in terms of the bivariate H-Fox function. This model is further enhanced through the deployment of a multihop FSO relaying system as an efficient technique to mitigate the turbulence-induced fading as well as pointing errors.