Topic:Telecommunications engineering

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Telecommunication is the transmission of signals over a distance for the purpose of communication. In modern times, this process almost always involves the sending of electromagnetic waves by electronic transmitters but in earlier years it may have involved the use of smoke signals, drums or semaphore. Today, telecommunication is widespread and devices that assist the process, such as the television, radio and telephone, are common in many parts of the world. There is also a vast array of networks that connect these devices, including computer networks, public telephone networks, radio networks and television networks. Computer communication across the Internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging, is just one of many examples of telecommunication.

Telecommunication systems are generally designed by telecommunication engineers. Major contributors to the field of telecommunications include Alexander Bell who invented the telephone (as we know it), John Logie Baird who invented the mechanical television and Guglielmo Marconi who first demonstrated transatlantic radio communication. In recent times, optical fiber has radically improved the bandwidth available for intercontinental communication, helping to facilitate a faster and richer Internet experience. And, digital television has eliminated effects such as snowy pictures and ghosting. Telecommunication remains an important part of the world economy and the telecommunication industry's revenue has been placed at just under 3% of the gross world product.


The basic elements of a telecommunication system are:

  • a transmitter (information source) that takes information and converts it to a signal for transmission
  • a transmission medium over which the signal is transmitted
  • a receiver (information sink) that receives and converts the signal back into required information

For example, consider a radio broadcast. In this case the broadcast tower is the transmitter, the radio is the receiver and the transmission medium is free space. Often telecommunication systems are two-way and devices act as both a transmitter and receiver or transceiver. For example, a mobile phone is a transceiver. Telecommunication over a phone line is called point-to-point communication because it is between one transmitter and one receiver, telecommunication through radio broadcasts is called broadcast communication because it is between one powerful transmitter and numerous receivers.[2]

Signals can either be analogue or digital. In an analogue signal, the signal is varied continuously with respect to the information. In a digital signal, the information is encoded as a set of discrete values (e.g. 1's and 0's).[3] Telecommunications devices convert different types of information, such as sound and video, into electrical or optical signals. Electrical signals typically travel along a medium such as copper wire or are carried over the air as radio waves. Optical signals typically travel along a medium such as strands of glass fibers. When a signal reaches its destination, the device on the receiving end converts the signal back into an understandable message, such as sound over a telephone, moving images on a television, or words and pictures on a computer screen.[4]

A collection of transmitters, receivers or transceivers that communicate with each other is known as a network. Digital networks may consist of one or more routers that route data to the correct user. An analogue network may consist of one or more switches that establish a connection between two or more users. For both types of network, a repeater may be necessary to amplify or recreate the signal when it is being transmitted over long distances. This is to combat attenuation that can render the signal indistinguishable from noise.[5]

A channel is a division in a transmission medium so that it can be used to send multiple independent streams of data. For example, a radio station may broadcast at 96 MHz while another radio station may broadcast at 94.5 MHz. In this case the medium has been divided by frequency and each channel received a separate frequency to broadcast on. Alternatively one could allocate each channel a recurring segment of time over which to broadcast.[5]

The shaping of a signal to convey information is known as modulation. Modulation is a key concept in telecommunications and is frequently used to impose the information of one signal on another. Modulation is used to represent a digital message as an analogue waveform. This is known as keying and several keying techniques exist — these include phase-shift keying, amplitude-shift keying and minimum-shift keying. Bluetooth, for example, uses phase-shift keying for exchanges between devices (see note).[6]

However, more relevant to earlier discussion, modulation is also used to boost the frequency of analogue signals. This is because a raw signal is often not suitable for transmission over long distances of free space due to its low frequencies. Hence its information must be superimposed on a higher frequency signal (known as a carrier wave) before transmission. There are several different modulation schemes available to achieve this — some of the most basic being amplitude modulation and frequency modulation. An example of this process is a DJ's voice being superimposed on a 96 MHz carrier wave using frequency modulation (the voice would then be received on a radio as the channel “96 FM”).


Level 1[edit]

Level 2[edit]

Level 3[edit]

Analog integrated circuits. Antenna and wave propagation. Electromagnetic field theory. Digital communication. Network analysis. Very large scale integration.

Level 4[edit]