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What are the Different Types of Telecommunications Technology?

Jason C. Chavis
Jason C. Chavis

Telecommunications technology includes anything used by humans to communicate information over a distance. The concept has been around since the early days of human history, when smoke signals and drums were used to inform a person or groups of people of an event or situation. Major breakthroughs since the late 1800s have brought the field of telecommunications into the modern age, however. As early as the telegraph, long distances could be traversed with information. More recent developments include the telephone, radio, television, fax machine, and computer, each with its own unique properties to benefit the information exchange of mankind.

In order for something to be considered a telecommunications technology, it needs to maintain three specific properties that define its actions. First, some sort of transmitter must adapt information into a signal, such as a drummer beating a specific combination of beats to represent an event. This signal must then be transmitted over some sort of medium, such as the echo caused by a valley in which the drummer is located. Third, a receiver captures the signal and converts it into information usable by the recipient. Like the drum beating example, all modern forms of telecommunications from cellular phones to Internet connections use this same concept.

The telephone is a common telecommunications device.
The telephone is a common telecommunications device.

One of the most prevalent telecommunications device is the telephone, an instrument that transfers vocal information from place to place. Two main types of phones are used in modern society: the analog-based, fixed-line telephone and the satellite-based, cellular phone. Fixed-line telephones were first established as a telecommunications network in the late 1800s using a complex system of wires placed around the world. Cellular technology was first implemented in the 1970s using a network of satellites and radio towers. Fax machines, which utilize the fixed-line telephony network, also use the same method to transfer paper-based information.

Telecommunications towers for radio and television.
Telecommunications towers for radio and television.

The broadcast system, which features the radio and television networks, uses a different format to transmit information. Both systems use electromagnetic waves that send audio and video information from one location to another. This can either be accomplished through an analog or digital method. The basic methodology for both principles were created during the early 1900s and quickly became primary methods of information transfer throughout the next century. One challenge with this form of technology is the fact that different frequencies are used for different platforms and locations around the world.

A telecommunications engineer working on a network server.
A telecommunications engineer working on a network server.

Networked computers are very common in the modern world and are either connected to a local-area network or the world wide web. This telecommunications technology allows users to send and receive a variety of formatted information such as text via emails or video with webcams. Different types of connections are available to make this technology function. Early connective techniques included fixed-line analog-to-digital modems, while newer methods including Ethernet lines and wireless connections using electromagnetic waves.

Discussion Comments


I think we should update that definition in the first sentence because devices now talk to devices hence 5G being the highway for IoT.


@burlap, you may be correct in your assessment of the swinging momentum the telecommunications technology industry is facing but I still think that voice calls have their place and time.

Simply put, there are some emotions that can be transmitted through voice inflection and intonation that will never be possible by text communication whether through text messages or e-mail.

Voice communication will always be an option available to the customers of these communication giants.


@NightChef, you are right about text and multimedia messaging services and how they have shifted the weight of use on wireless networks however there is an even larger and more significant swinging force in the world of mobile phones. The use of internet data functions on ever popular smart phones and mobile media devices has meant that telecommunication technology organizations have had to significanly upgrade their networks to handle the load consumers demand.

This has been yet another way that communication has been stripped from simple voice phone calls and moved to alternative or simpler forms of communication. By allowing mobile phones to send and receive e-mails, less phone calls are needed from the same device.


I think it is very interesting that technology's role in the telecommunication industry has actually shifted the market from being a simple voice service to offering a whole range of new media delivery for the consumer.

Even the very use of services offered by the telecommunication industry has inadvertently changed their function as a service provider.

A good example of this is how the start of text message began to take hold and how now the world of SMS and MMS messaging services are starting to overtake the actual use of telephone voice services.

Millions of text messages are sent everyday to mobile phones far and wide. This has resulted in a drop in the use of phone calls and has therefore changed the priority of infrastructure development that cell providers focus their efforts on.


@Ubiquitous is correct about VoIP being the next step new telecommunication technology. The innovation that we have seen in this market is astounding and I think that society can make further connections around the world at greater ease because of this wonderful new advent.

One incredible ability of VoIP services that are now available to consumers is the addition video services to the systems. Many companies that provide VoIP to customers will now allow you to simply add a web camera or video camera of some type to their system as to allow a way of visually communicating with another party.

While there is much discourse on the actual benefits of using video conferencing services there have been some very successful and beneficial cases in which it helped people greatly.

The ability for a doctor in a big city to diagnose a patient with visual confirmation of an ailment means that this technology combination will not only connect the world, it will save lives.


One of the biggest and latest advancements in telecommunication technology that is completely missed by the author of this article is the use of Voice over Internet Protocol services. VoIP is a way of transmitting and receiving audible sound via data packets on the internet.

While this service is nothing new and has actually existed for over a decade, our data networks, home connection speeds and computer software applications have just recently come together enough to provide users with a comfortable and efficient experience.

This form of communication relies on the use of the internet instead of dedicated voice network systems for communication between two parties. Because of this fact, if a consumer desires to start using such devices and services, they must have a fast enough connection to the internet that can support the relatively bandwidth hungry requirements of VoIP.


I know that we have seen telecommunication technology advance by leaps and bounds in the past couple of decades, especially with wireless phones smashing our culture and markets, but I really thought that we would have seen more uses of satellite enabled mobile phones.

Don't get me wrong, I realize that there are many satellite phone options available on the market today but the options are extremely expensive and do not seem to provide the same level of service that CDMA and GSM cellular networks can. In effect this technology has been relegated to a very niche area of use that mostly includes emergency service responders and personnel working in extremely remote locations with no access to cellular phone sites.

Gone are the days of my dreams of opening up the brief case looking devices and calling mom from the top of a mountain somewhere, that is unless I have a few thousand dollars laying around and a budge that can afford a few dollars per minute service charge.


With the advent and mass introduction of wireless technologies we have seen an exodus from the wired telephone technology in telecommunication. Several factors have led our market in this abandonment of home phone lines and payphones. While once the dominating force we now see that the convenience of carrying around a device capable of the same functions and more will be the final blow to a house phone.

With people ever trying to reduce their costs of living and expenses, telephone bills are one way that people can keep down the monthly budget. Instead of having a household line in addition to a mobile phone, many families are electing to discontinue home phone service and simply use their wireless handsets.

What amazes me about this movement in telecommunication technology impact is that everyday we have more and more twisted-copper telephone cable that sits above and below the ground all around us in almost virtually every neighborhood and housing development. I wonder if we will ever be able to harness these existing networks for either data or some other type of practical use.

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