Telecommunications is the exchange of information by electronic means. A complete, single telecommunications circuit consists of two stations, each equipped with a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter and receiver at any station may be combined into a single device called a transceiver. The medium of signal transmission can be electrical wire or cable (also known as “copper”), optical fiber or electromagnetic fields.
The simplest form of telecommunications takes place between two stations. However, it is common for multiple transmitting and receiving stations to exchange data among themselves. Such an arrangement is called a telecommunications network. The Internet is the largest example. On a smaller scale, examples include:
- Corporate and academic wide-area networks (WANs)
- Telephone networks
- Police and fire communications systems
- Taxicab dispatch networks
- Groups of amateur
Data is conveyed in a telecommunications circuit by means of an electrical signal called the carrier or carrier wave. In order for a carrier to convey information, some form of modulation is required. The mode of modulation can be broadly categorized as either analog or digital. In analog modulation, some aspect of the carrier is varied in a continuous fashion. The oldest form of analog modulation is amplitude modulation (AM), still used in radio broadcasting at some frequencies. Digital modulation actually predates analog modulation; the earliest form was Morse code Broadcast networks consisting of a single transmitting station and multiple receive-only stations, is considered a form of telecommunications. Radio and television broadcasting are the most common examples.