Transmission medium

A transmission medium is a material substance (solid, liquid, gas, or plasma) that can propagate energy waves. For example, the transmission medium for sounds is usually a gas, but solids and liquids may also act as a transmission medium for sound.

The absence of a material medium in vacuum may also constitute a transmission medium for electromagnetic waves such as light and radio waves. While material substance is not required for electromagnetic waves to propagate, such waves are usually affected by the transmission media they pass through, for instance by absorption or by reflection or refraction at the interfaces between media.

The term transmission medium also refers to a technical device that employs the material substance to transmit or guide waves. Thus, an optical fiber or a copper cable is a transmission medium. Not only this but also is able to guide the transmission of networks.

A transmission medium can be classified as a:

  • Linear medium, if different waves at any particular point in the medium can be superposed;
  • Bounded medium, if it is finite in extent, otherwise unbounded medium;
  • Uniform medium or homogeneous medium, if its physical properties are unchanged at different points;
  • Isotropic medium, if its physical properties are the same in different directions.
Coaxial cable, one example of a transmission medium

Electromagnetic radiation can be transmitted through an optical medium, such as optical fiber, or through twisted pair wires, coaxial cable, or dielectric-slab waveguides. It may also pass through any physical material that is transparent to the specific wavelength, such as water, air, glass, or concrete. Sound is, by definition, the vibration of matter, so it requires a physical medium for transmission, as do other kinds of mechanical waves and heat energy. Historically, science incorporated various aether theories to explain the transmission medium. However, it is now known that electromagnetic waves do not require a physical transmission medium, and so can travel through the "vacuum" of free space. Regions of the insulative vacuum can become conductive for electrical conduction through the presence of free electrons, holes, or ions.


A physical medium in data communications is the transmission path over which a signal propagates.

Many transmission media are used as communications channel.

For telecommunications purposes in the United States, Federal Standard 1037C, transmission media are classified as one of the following:

One of the most common physical medias used in networking is copper wire. Copper wire to carry signals to long distances using relatively low amounts of power. The unshielded twisted pair (UTP) is eight strands of copper wire, organized into four pairs.[1]

Another example of a physical medium is optical fiber, which has emerged as the most commonly used transmission medium for long-distance communications. Optical fiber is a thin strand of glass that guides light along its length. Four major factors favor optical fiber over copper- data rates, distance, installation, and costs. Optical fiber can carry huge amounts of data compared to copper. It can be run for hundreds of miles without the need for signal repeaters, in turn, reducing maintenance costs and improving the reliability of the communication system because repeaters are a common source of network failures. Glass is lighter than copper allowing for less need for specialized heavy-lifting equipment when installing long-distance optical fiber. Optical fiber for indoor applications cost approximately a dollar a foot, the same as copper.[2]

Multimode and single mode are two types of commonly used optical fiber. Multimode fiber uses LEDs as the light source and can carry signals over shorter distances, about 2 kilometers. Single mode can carry signals over distances of tens of miles.

Wireless media may carry surface waves or skywaves, either longitudinally or transversely, and are so classified.

In both communications, communication is in the form of electromagnetic waves. With guided transmission media, the waves are guided along a physical path; examples of guided media include phone lines, twisted pair cables, coaxial cables, and optical fibers. Unguided transmission media are methods that allow the transmission of data without the use of physical means to define the path it takes. Examples of this include microwave, radio or infrared. Unguided media provide a means for transmitting electromagnetic waves but do not guide them; examples are propagation through air, vacuum and seawater.

The term direct link is used to refer to the transmission path between two devices in which signals propagate directly from transmitters to receivers with no intermediate devices, other than amplifiers or repeaters used to increase signal strength. This term can apply to both guided and unguided media.

Types of transmissions

A transmission may be simplex, half-duplex, or full-duplex.

In simplex transmission, signals are transmitted in only one direction; one station is a transmitter and the other is the receiver. In the half-duplex operation, both stations may transmit, but only one at a time. In full duplex operation, both stations may transmit simultaneously. In the latter case, the medium is carrying signals in both directions at same time.

There are two types of transmission media: guided and unguided.

Guided Media:

  • Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP)
  • Shielded Twisted Pair (STP)
  • Coaxial Cable
  • Optical Fiber
  • hub

Unguided Media: Transmission media then looking at analysis of using them unguided transmission media is data signals that flow through the air. They are not guided or bound to a channel to follow. Following are unguided media used for data communication:

  • Radio Transmission
  • Microwave

Digital encoding

Transmission and reception of data typically is performed in four steps.

  1. The data is coded as binary numbers at the sender end
  2. A carrier signal is modulated as specified by the binary representation of the data
  3. At the receiving end, the incoming signal is demodulated into the respective binary numbers
  4. Decoding of the binary numbers is performed[3]

See also


  1. ^ Agrawal, Manish (2010). Business Data Communications. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 37. ISBN 0470483369.
  2. ^ Agrawal, Manish (2010). Business Data Communications. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 41–43. ISBN 0470483369.
  3. ^ Agrawal, Manish (2010). Business Data Communications. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 54. ISBN 0470483369.

In telecommunication and electronics, baud (; symbol: Bd) is a common measure of symbol rate, one of the components that determine the speed of communication over a data channel.

It is the unit for symbol rate or modulation rate in symbols per second or pulses per second. It is the number of distinct symbol changes (signaling events) made to the transmission medium per second in a digitally modulated signal or a bd rate line code.

Baud is related to, but not equivalent to, gross bit rate, which can be expressed as bits per second. If there are only two symbols in the system (typically 0 and 1), then baud and bits per second (bps) are equivalent.

Carrier-sense multiple access

Carrier-sense multiple access (CSMA) is a media access control (MAC) protocol in which a node verifies the absence of other traffic before transmitting on a shared transmission medium, such as an electrical bus or a band of the electromagnetic spectrum.

A transmitter attempts to determine whether another transmission is in progress before initiating a transmission using a carrier-sense mechanism. That is, it tries to detect the presence of a carrier signal from another node before attempting to transmit. If a carrier is sensed, the node waits for the transmission in progress to end before initiating its own transmission. Using CSMA, multiple nodes may, in turn, send and receive on the same medium. Transmissions by one node are generally received by all other nodes connected to the medium.

Variations on basic CSMA include addition of collision-avoidance, collision-detection and collision-resolution techniques.

Carrier wave

In telecommunications, a carrier wave, carrier signal, or just carrier, is a waveform (usually sinusoidal) that is modulated (modified) with an input signal for the purpose of conveying information. This carrier wave usually has a much higher frequency than the input signal does. The purpose of the carrier is usually either to transmit the information through space as an electromagnetic wave (as in radio communication), or to allow several carriers at different frequencies to share a common physical transmission medium by frequency division multiplexing (as, for example, a cable television system). The term is also used for an unmodulated emission in the absence of any modulating signal.

Channel access method

In telecommunications and computer networks, a channel access method or multiple access method allows more than two terminals connected to the same transmission medium to transmit over it and to share its capacity. Examples of shared physical media are wireless networks, bus networks, ring networks and point-to-point links operating in half-duplex mode.

A channel access method is based on multiplexing, that allows several data streams or signals to share the same communication channel or transmission medium. In this context, multiplexing is provided by the physical layer.

A channel access method is also based on a multiple access protocol and control mechanism, also known as medium access control (MAC). Medium access control deals with issues such as addressing, assigning multiplex channels to different users, and avoiding collisions. Media access control is a sub-layer in the data link layer of the OSI model and a component of the link layer of the TCP/IP model.

Communication channel

A communication channel or simply channel refers either to a physical transmission medium such as a wire, or to a logical connection over a multiplexed medium such as a radio channel in telecommunications and computer networking. A channel is used to convey an information signal, for example a digital bit stream, from one or several senders (or transmitters) to one or several receivers. A channel has a certain capacity for transmitting information, often measured by its bandwidth in Hz or its data rate in bits per second.

Communicating data from one location to another requires some form of pathway or medium. These pathways, called communication channels, use two types of media: cable (twisted-pair wire, cable, and fiber-optic cable) and broadcast (microwave, satellite, radio, and infrared). Cable or wire line media use physical wires of cables to transmit data and information. Twisted-pair wire and coaxial cables are made of copper, and fiber-optic cable is made of glass.

In information theory, a channel refers to a theoretical channel model with certain error characteristics. In this more general view, a storage device is also a kind of channel, which can be sent to (written) and received from (reading ).


A document is a written, drawn, presented, or memorialized representation of thought. a document is a form, or written piece that trains a line of thought or as in history, a significant event. The word originates from the Latin documentum, which denotes a "teaching" or "lesson": the verb doceō denotes "to teach". In the past, the word was usually used to denote a written proof useful as evidence of a truth or fact. In the computer age, "document" usually denotes a primarily textual computer file, including its structure and format, e.g. fonts, colors, and images. Contemporarily, "document" is not defined by its transmission medium, e.g., paper, given the existence of electronic documents. "Documentation" is distinct because it has more denotations than "document". Documents are also distinguished from "realia", which are three-dimensional objects that would otherwise satisfy the definition of "document" because they memorialize or represent thought; documents are considered more as 2 dimensional representations. While documents are able to have large varieties of customization, all documents are able to be shared freely, and have the right to do so, creativity can be represented by documents, also. History, events, examples, opinion, etc. all can be expressed in documents.

Electrical length

In telecommunications and electrical engineering, electrical length (or phase length)

refers to the length of an electrical conductor in terms of the phase shift introduced by transmission over that conductor at some frequency.

Frequency-division multiplexing

In telecommunications, frequency-division multiplexing (FDM) is a technique by which the total bandwidth available in a communication medium is divided into a series of non-overlapping frequency bands, each of which is used to carry a separate signal. This allows a single transmission medium such as a cable or optical fiber to be shared by multiple independent signals. Another use is to carry separate serial bits or segments of a higher rate signal in parallel.

The most natural example of frequency-division multiplexing is radio and television broadcasting, in which multiple radio signals at different frequencies pass through the air at the same time. Another example is cable television, in which many television channels are carried simultaneously on a single cable. FDM is also used by telephone systems to transmit multiple telephone calls through high capacity trunklines, communications satellites to transmit multiple channels of data on uplink and downlink radio beams, and broadband DSL modems to transmit large amounts of computer data through twisted pair telephone lines, among many other uses.

An analogous technique called wavelength division multiplexing is used in fiber-optic communication, in which multiple channels of data are transmitted over a single optical fiber using different wavelengths (frequencies) of light.

Medium access control

In IEEE 802 LAN/MAN standards, the medium access control (MAC) sublayer is the layer that controls the hardware responsible for interaction with the media (wire or wireless).

The MAC sublayer and the logical link control (LLC) sublayer together make up the data link layer. Within the data link layer, the LLC provides flow control and multiplexing for the logical link (i.e. EtherType, 802.1Q VLAN tag etc), while the MAC provides flow control and multiplexing for the transmission medium.

These two sublayers together correspond to layer 2 of the OSI model. For compatibility reasons, LLC is optional for implementations of IEEE 802.3 (the frames are then "raw"), but compulsory for implementations of other IEEE 802 physical layer standards. Within the hierarchy of the OSI model and IEEE 802 standards, the MAC sublayer provides a control abstraction of the physical layer such that the complexities of physical link control are invisible to the LLC and upper layers of the network stack. Thus any LLC sublayer (and higher layers) may be used with any MAC. In turn, the medium access control block is formally connected to the PHY via a media-independent interface. Although the MAC block is today typically integrated with the PHY within the same device package, historically any MAC could be used with any PHY, independent of the transmission medium.

When sending data to another device on the network, the MAC sublayer encapsulates higher-level frames into frames appropriate for the transmission medium (i.e. the MAC adds a syncword preamble and also padding if necessary), adds a frame check sequence to identify transmission errors, and then forwards the data to the physical layer as soon as the appropriate channel access method permits it. For topologies with a collision domain (bus, ring, mesh, point-to-multipoint topologies), controlling when data is sent and when to wait is necessary to avoid collisions. Additionally, the MAC is also responsible for compensating for collisions by initiating retransmission if a jam signal is detected. When receiving data from the physical layer, the MAC block ensures data integrity by verifying the sender's frame check sequences, and strips off the sender's preamble and padding before passing the data up to the higher layers.

Network topology

Network topology is the arrangement of the elements (links, nodes, etc.) of a communication network. Network topology can be used to define or describe the arrangement of various types of telecommunication networks, including command and control radio networks, industrial fieldbusses, and computer networks.

Network topology is the topological structure of a network and may be depicted physically or logically. It is an application of graph theory wherein communicating devices are modeled as nodes and the connections between the devices are modeled as links or lines between the nodes. Physical topology is the placement of the various components of a network (e.g., device location and cable installation), while logical topology illustrates how data flows within a network. Distances between nodes, physical interconnections, transmission rates, or signal types may differ between two different networks, yet their topologies may be identical. A network’s physical topology is a particular concern of the physical layer of the OSI model.

Examples of network topologies are found in local area networks (LAN), a common computer network installation. Any given node in the LAN has one or more physical links to other devices in the network; graphically mapping these links results in a geometric shape that can be used to describe the physical topology of the network. A wide variety of physical topologies have been used in LANs, including ring, bus, mesh and star. Conversely, mapping the data flow between the components determines the logical topology of the network. In comparison, Controller Area Networks, common in vehicles, are primarily distributed control system networks of one or more controllers interconnected with sensors and actuators over, invariably, a physical bus topology.

Physical layer

In the seven-layer OSI model of computer networking, the physical layer or layer 1 is the first and lowest layer. This layer may be implemented by a PHY chip.

The physical layer consists of the electronic circuit transmission technologies of a network. It is a fundamental layer underlying the higher level functions in a network, and can be implemented through a great number of different hardware technologies with widely varying characteristics.The physical layer defines the means of transmitting raw bits rather than logical data packets over a physical data link connecting network nodes. The bitstream may be grouped into code words or symbols and converted to a physical signal that is transmitted over a transmission medium. The physical layer provides an electrical, mechanical, and procedural interface to the transmission medium. The shapes and properties of the electrical connectors, the frequencies to broadcast on, the line code to use and similar low-level parameters, are specified here.

Within the semantics of the OSI model, the physical layer translates logical communications requests from the data link layer into hardware-specific operations to cause transmission or reception of electronic signals.

Reflection coefficient

In physics and electrical engineering the reflection coefficient is a parameter that describes how much of an electromagnetic wave is reflected by an impedance discontinuity in the transmission medium. It is equal to the ratio of the amplitude of the reflected wave to the incident wave, with each expressed as phasors. For example, it is used in optics to calculate the amount of light that is reflected from a surface with a different index of refraction, such as a glass surface, or in an electrical transmission line to calculate how much of the electromagnetic wave is reflected by an impedance. The reflection coefficient is closely related to the transmission coefficient. The reflectance of a system is also sometimes called a "reflection coefficient".

Different specialties have different applications for the term.

Simplex communication

Simplex communication is a communication channel that sends information in one direction only.The International Telecommunication Union definition is a communications channel that operates in one direction at a time, but that may be reversible; this is termed half duplex in other contexts. A duplex communication channel requires two simplex channels operating in opposite directions.

For example, in TV and radio broadcasting, information flows only from the transmitter site to multiple receivers. A pair of walkie-talkie two-way radios provide a simplex circuit in the ITU sense; only one party at a time can talk, while the other listens until it can hear an opportunity to transmit. The transmission medium (the radio signal over the air) can carry information in only one direction.

The old Western Union company used the term simplex when describing the half-duplex and simplex capacity of their new transatlantic telegraph cable completed between Newfoundland and the Azores in 1928. The same definition for a simplex radio channel was used by the National Fire Protection Association in 2002.

Telecommunications engineering

Telecommunications engineering is an engineering discipline centered on electrical and computer engineering which seeks to support and enhance telecommunication systems. The work ranges from basic circuit design to strategic mass developments. A telecommunication engineer is responsible for designing and overseeing the installation of telecommunications equipment and facilities, such as complex electronic switching systems, and other plain old telephone service facilities, optical fiber cabling, IP networks, and microwave transmission systems. Telecommunication engineering also overlaps with broadcast engineering.

Telecommunication is a diverse field of engineering connected to electronic, civil and systems engineering. they help find the cost of money for different types of computers and technological objects. Ultimately, telecom engineers are responsible for providing high-speed data transmission services. They use a variety of equipment and transport media to design the telecom network infrastructure; the most common media used by wired telecommunications today are twisted pair, coaxial cables, and optical fibers. Telecommunications engineers also provide solutions revolving around wireless modes of communication and information transfer, such as wireless telephony services, radio and satellite communications, and internet and broadband technologies.

Time-division multiplexing

Time-division multiplexing (TDM) is a method of transmitting and receiving independent signals over a common signal path by means of synchronized switches at each end of the transmission line so that each signal appears on the line only a fraction of time in an alternating pattern. It is used when the bit rate of the transmission medium exceeds that of the signal to be transmitted. This form of signal multiplexing was developed in telecommunications for telegraphy systems in the late 19th century, but found its most common application in digital telephony in the second half of the 20th century.

Transmission (telecommunications)

In telecommunications, transmission (abbreviations: TX, Xmit) is the process of sending and propagating an analogue or digital information signal over a physical point-to-point or point-to-multipoint transmission medium, either wired, optical fiber or wireless.One example of transmission is the sending of a signal with limited duration, for example a block or packet of data, a phone call, or an email. Transmission technologies and schemes typically refer to physical layer protocol duties such as modulation, demodulation, line coding, equalization, error control, bit synchronization and multiplexing, but the term may also involve higher-layer protocol duties, for example, digitizing an analog message signal, and data compression.

Transmission of a digital message, or of a digitized analog signal, is known as digital communication.

Wave propagation

Wave propagation is any of the ways in which waves travel.

With respect to the direction of the oscillation relative to the propagation direction, we can distinguish between longitudinal wave and transverse waves.

For electromagnetic waves, propagation may occur in a vacuum as well as in a material medium. Other wave types cannot propagate through a vacuum and need a transmission medium to exist.

Waveguide (optics)

An optical waveguide is a physical structure that guides electromagnetic waves in the optical spectrum. Common types of optical waveguides include optical fiber and rectangular waveguides.

Optical waveguides are used as components in integrated optical circuits or as the transmission medium in local and long haul optical communication systems.

Optical waveguides can be classified according to their geometry (planar, strip, or fiber waveguides), mode structure (single-mode, multi-mode), refractive index distribution (step or gradient index) and material (glass, polymer, semiconductor).

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