What is Communication Media? Define All Types of Communication Media Used in Communication System

Technology involved in communication media is rapidly changing. The end users need not have detailed knowledge of its technical characteristics. But it is quite necessary that one must understand some of the important characteristics of the basic components of communication media, to understand networks. The understanding will help one to make a decision regarding Communication Media alternatives.
Let us look into few of the communication media which include twisted pair wire, coaxial cables and fiber optic cables the entire link the devices in a network physically. There are also communication media like terrestrial Microwave Communication Satellites, cellular phone systems etc. all of which use microwaves and other radio waves. There are also infrared systems which use infrared light to transmit and receive data. The following are commonly used communication media:

Cables Systems in Communication Media

Twisted Pair Wire

This is an ordinary telephone wire, which consists of copper wire, which is twisted into pairs giving it’s the name twisted pair wire. This wire is widely used media for telecommunications. These lines are used in established networks throughout the world, for both voice and data transmission. This is most extensively used media in many Local Area Networks And Wide Area Networks.

Co-Axial Cables

This consists of a copper or aluminum wire wrapped with spacers to insulate and protect it. The cover and insulation of the cable minimizes interference and distortion of the signals, the cables carries. Co-axial cables can be grouped and bundled together in bigger cables, which eases the installation. As these are of high quality, they can be used for underground cabling and also are used for cabling on the floors of lakes and oceans. These cables are preferred because of the high speed with which data is transmitted. These cables are used in High-Service Metropolitan Area Networks, cable TV systems and for short-distance connection etc.

Fiber Optic Cables

This media consists of cables, which are made up of one or more filaments of glass fiber, which thickness is hair thin, are wrapped in protective jackets. These transmit data as pulses of light, which are generated by lasers. The rate of transmission is about 30 billion bits per second, which is about 60 times greater than co-axial cables and about 3,000 times better than twisted-pair wire lines. This media offers substantial reductions in size and weight and also increased speed and huge carrying capacity.
 If we look at half an inch diameter of fiber optic cable can carry up to 50,000 channels, whereas standard co-axial cable carries up to 5,500 channels. Fiber optic cables do not generate Electromagnetic Radiations and also are not affected by these radiations, which is a strong reason, for placing multiple fibers in same cable. These cables have a minimum requirement of repeaters for signal re-transmissions, unlike electrical wire media. Even the data error rate is much lower than other media, and is quite difficult to tap.
The major disadvantage of these cables is that, the splicing for giving connections is difficult, but improved techniques of splicing has made this splicing easier.

Terrestrial Microwave Media

This media involves earth bound microwave systems, which transmit high speed radio signals in a line-of-sight path, between relay stations which are about 30 miles apart. For reception of microwave, antennas are usually placed on top of buildings, hills, towers etc. and these form familiar sights in many areas. This medium is quite popular medium for both long distance and Metropolitan Area Networks.

Read About Communications Satellites in Communication System

This media also uses microwave radio signals for transmission of data. These satellites have been launched into geo-synchronous orbits, which are about 22,000 miles above equator, by several countries. These satellites are powered by solar power and use solar panels for it. These satellites can transmit microwaves at speed of several hundred million bits per second.
These satellites serve as relay stations for Communications Signals, which are transmitted from earth stations. The earth stations use dish antennas to beam to the earth stations which are several thousand miles away. Earlier, these satellites were used to transmit voice and video, but now owing to their high speed transmission they are also used for data transmission. These satellite networks are also popularly known as bypass networks, as the firms are bypassing the regular communication networks.

Cellular Phone Systems

This media of communication uses several Radio Communication Technologies. The basic act involves dividing a geographic area into smaller areas known as cells, which gives them the name cellular. These cells are about one to several miles in area. Every cell has its own, low-power transmitter, to relay the calls from one cell to another. Using computers and other communication processors, the transmission of data is controlled coordinated.
Initially, these systems used analog communication technologies, but now the use of digital technology is becoming more and more popular.

Read About Wireless LAN In Communication Media System

Wiring is an office or building Local Area Network (LAN) is quite often difficult and costly affair. The problem is that the buildings are old; they usually do not have conducts for co-axial cables or additional twisted pairs. In new buildings, there may not be sufficient room for additional wiring. When it comes to repairs and maintained it is a herculean task and a costly affair. For these reasons, a solution is to provide a wireless LAN, using one of several wireless technologies. LAN radio is one such technology, which involves a high frequency radio technology, quite similar to digital, cellular technology. Other wireless technology which is popular is infrared LAN, as it uses beams of infrared light for establishing network links between LAN components.
Thus a wireless LAN is a greatly desired solution, as it reduces the need for wires and cables, which makes LAN setup, relocation and maintenance easier task. The problem is the high initial costs.
Let us look at maximum speed of various Communication Media. The speed is measured in Bits Per Seconds (BPS).

Sr_No.
Media
Maximum Speed
Twisted pair wire
2MBPAS-100MBPS
2.
Co-axial cable-base band/broadband
264 MBPA -550 MBPS
3.
Satellite/terrestrial microwave
100 MBPS
4.
Wireless LAN Radio
3.3 MBPS
5.
Infrared LAN
4 MBPS
6.
Fiber optic cable
30 GBPS
MBPS = Million Bits Per Second
GBPS = Giga Bits Per Second (Billion BPS)
The above speeds are the transmission speeds for data transmission when a given media type is used for connectivity. Thus, depending on the requirement resources available one can choose the communication media to be used for establishing a network.

 

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