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What are the Different Types of Communication Systems?

By Phil Shepley
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are a great many different types of communication systems, due to the fact that each one has the potential to contain a vast array of components. There are, however, several categories that each type of system can usually be placed into. The types of communications systems are usually discernible by the primary medium through which the information is transmitted. Communication systems may also be classified as one-way, two-way, or multiple-way systems, depending on how many parties can exchange information through its various components.

One example is a radio communication system. The medium through which information is transmitted iselectromagnetic waves, and more specifically those with frequencies that are lower than the frequency of visible light. On one end of these radio systems is a transmitter that will take the information and electronically convert it into radio waves. These radio waves travel to the other end of the radio communication system, which is designed to detect and decode the waves and convert them to recognizable information. A simple two-way radio system may comprise of two handheld transceivers, for example, which are more commonly referred to as walkie-talkies.

Power line communication systems are used to transmit electronically from a source or array of sources to their destinations. A type of electronic system that often is referred to is cable television, widely known for its transmission of a plethora of channels throughout homes in addition to their use for providing Internet access. Power line communication systems are often used because of their relatively low cost, even though there are other systems that surpass them in quality and efficiency.

Optical communication systems offer many improvements over other types, and have also been responsible for revolutionizing the telecommunications industry. The main reason for this is because the medium used in optical systems is light, which allows for them to be faster, clearer, and more reliable than electrical or radio signals. These reliable signals are usually carried through optical fiber, although an optical signal can be sent over relatively short distances through the air, usually only over a couple of miles.

As mentioned, communication systems are far from simple and can contain a wide range of components to uphold continuous operation. In addition to the above systems, communications networks may utilize Internet, cellular, wireless, satellite technologies and more. Those systems which take advantage of two or more media are referred to as hybrid communication networks. Much research is being devoted to finding better ways of developing communications systems through countless combinations of all of these communications technologies.

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Discussion Comments

By anon317954 — On Feb 05, 2013

List 10 various forms of business communication and explain them in one line?

By IceCarver — On Oct 06, 2010

Simply put and as some of you have stated, it is all about the mobile communication systems in this day and age.

The ability to communicate and not be tied to a wire will go down in history books as one of our major advancements.

If you think about it, the concept seemed so unreal when we watched shows like Star Trek thirty years ago and saw our favorite actors simply touching their chest to communicate with others. Now we have don't even hesitate when we someone speaking to themselves on the street and think that they have a Bluetooth wireless accessory tucked inside of their ear.

I think it is only a matter of time before people will have these systems installed within their own body and make the communication of people even easier then before.

The real question is, do we actually have that much to say to our friends, family and fellow citizens.

By dkarnowski — On Oct 06, 2010

@Burlap, you are very correct in your statement about communication being the key to resolving conflict.

I think about the advent of today's modern technology including the first use of satellites as a means of caring a voice signal over huge distances. These primitive satellites could only handle a few calls at any given time but as the technology progressed there are now almost unlimited possible communications between individuals.

I am not sure of how the connection was physically established but when I think of great communication systems in our recent history the red lines between Russian and United States diplomats and officials is most likely to thank for the avoidance of nuclear war in the 1950's and 1960's. Imagine if we did have nuclear capability but no way of contacting the other side or our enemies, mutually assured destruction almost seems likely in that event.

While we have all experience land based communication systems, it is the wireless ones that bewilder me. I can only imagine what it would have been like the first time someone heard a voice broadcast over the airwaves.

By Burlap — On Oct 06, 2010

@sammyG, your story brings back great memories and I too share your desire for less expensive phone services these days.

I think that a huge advancement in communication systems in the last decade has been the implementation of voice over internet protocol services, also known as VoIP.

Many people will recognize the name Skype as a major software application and system of communication that allows people all over the world to converse for free using voip technology.

For those of you still confused, this technology allows the sending and receiving of voice signals of the internet. This type of system can often have issues and is almost never as clean sounding as a regular home line but it most certainly is cheaper.

Internet communication takes people way past the point of just using voice, however; video web cameras have now become so ubiquitous that many individuals and groups are able to actually have a face to face video conversation using the internet bandwidth.

From tin cans to voip, our nation and world have truly advanced the way that we can talk to each other, and good thing because communication is the key to resolving issues.

By sammyG — On Oct 06, 2010

My favorite communication system growing up was using two tin cans and a string. My brother and I would stretch out our custom setup across the hall after hours and converse quite well.

We of course had to custom paint our cans and make believe that they were special phones used only by spies.

I wish it was that simple these days, mobile phone bills and even home lines are ever increasing in prices and the handsets are getting more and more simple. I wonder what the mobile communication industry has in store for us next.

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