To get here to there, data must move through something. A telephone line, cable, or the
atmosphereare all transmission media, or channels. But before the data can be communicated, it
must be converted into a form suitable for communication.
Data communications lines can be connected in two types of configurations: point-to-point
and multidrop. A point-to-point line directly connects the sending and the receiving devices, and
a multidrop line connects many devices, not just one sending device and one receiving device.
The two ways of connecting microcomputers with each other and with other equipments are
through the cable and through the air. There are three basic forms into which data can be
converted for communication: electrical pulses or charges, electromagnetic waves, and pulses of
Specifically, five kinds of technology are used to transmit data. These are telephone lines
(twisted pair), coaxial cable, fiber-optic cable, microwave, and satellite.
Telephone Lines  Inexpensive, multiple-conductor cable comprised of one or more pairs
of 18 to 24 gauge copper strands. The strands are twisted to improve protection against
electromagnetic and radio frequency interference. The cable, which may be either shielded or
unshielded, is used in low-speed communications, as telephone cable. It is used only in baseband
networks because of its narrow bandwidth. Most telephone lines you see strung on poles consist
of cables made up of hundreds of copper wires are twisted pairs. Twisted pairs are susceptible to
a variety of types of electrical interference (noise), which limits the practical distance that data
can be transmitted without being garbled. Twisted pairs have been used for years for voice and
data transmission, however they are now being phased out by more technically advanced and
Coaxial cable is a type of thickly insulated copper wire that can carry a
larger volume of data—about 100 million bits per second, the insulation is composed of a
nonconductive material covered by a layer of woven wire mesh and heavy-duty rubber or plastic.
In terms of number of telephone connections, a coaxial cable has 80 times the transmission
capacity of twisted pair. Coaxial cables are most often used as the primary communications
medium for local connected network in which all computer communication is within a limited
geographic area, such as in the same building.
Coaxial cable is also used for undersea telephone lines.
Fiber-Optic Cable 
A transmission medium composed of a central glass optical fiber
cable surrounded by cladding and an outer protective sheath. It transmits digital signals in the
form of modulated light from a laser or LED (light-emitting diode). In fiber-optic cable, data is
transmitted as pulses of light through tubes of glass. In terms of number of telephone connections,
fiber-optic cable has 20,000 times the transmission capacity of twisted pair. However, it is
significantly smaller. Indeed, a fiber-optic tube can be half the diameter of a human hair.
Although limited in the distance they can carry information, fiber-optic cables have several
advantages. Such cables are immune to electronic interference, which makes them more secure.
They are also lighter and less expensive than coaxial cable and are more reliable at transmitting
data. They transmit information using beams of light at light speeds instead of pulses of
electricity, making them far faster than copper cable. Fiber-optic cable is rapidly replacing
twisted-pair telephone lines.
Instead of using wire or cables, microwave systems can use the atmosphere as
the medium through which to transmit signals. Microwaves are high-frequency radio waves that
travel in straight lines through the air. Because the waves cannot bend with the curvature of the
earth, they can be transmitted only over short distances. Thus, microwave is a good medium for
sending data between buildings in a city or on a large college campus. For longer distances, the
waves must be relayed by means of "dishes", or antennas. These can be installed on towers, high
buildings, and mountaintops. Each tower facility receives incoming traffic, boosts the signal
strength, and sends the signal to the next station.
Satellite communications refers to the utilization of geostationary orbiting
satellites to relay the transmission received from one earth station to one or more earth stations.
They are the outcome of research in the area of communications whose objective is to achieve
ever-increasing ranges and capacities with the lowest possible costs. Orbiting about 22,000 miles
above the earth, satellites rotate at a precise point and speed above the earth. This makes them
appear stationary so they can amplify and relay microwave signals from one transmitter on the
ground to another. The primary advantage of satellite communication is the amount of area that can
be covered by a single satellite. It also has other features: long communication distance, and the
cost of station building is independent of the communication distance, operating in broadcasting
mode, easy for multiple access, sustaining heavy traffic, able to transport different types of service,
independent sending and receiving, and monitoring. Three satellites placed in particular orbits can
cover the entire surface of the earth, with some overlap. Their only drawback is that bad weather
can sometimes interrupt the flow of data.