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What is the Telecommunications Industry?

By Darlene Goodman
Updated May 16, 2024
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The telecommunications industry is the global business of supplying electronics and technologies to allow people to communicate with one another. The term telecommunications means communicating over technological devices. The main tools typically used in this industry are telephones, radios, televisions, computers, and related networks. Communications generally move between this equipment using cables, radio signals, and satellites.

The telephone is a telecommunications device that typically allows voice communications between people. For the most part, analog telephones, also known as land lines, have been the standard in the telecommunications industry. Analog telephones convert sound waves into electronic signals that run through cables. These cables connect homes and businesses to switchboards that route the telephone signals to their destinations.

Many analog networks have integrated digital telephone technology into their systems. Digital telephony, also called voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), is becoming a major part of the telecommunications industry. This converts voice into digital information that is able to be efficiently sent along data streams, such as the Internet or over wireless signals.

Wireless telephones, also called cell or mobile phones, use wireless radio signals that communicate with signal towers to route voice information through the air. These types of phones have grown in popularity so much that mobile phone subscriptions outnumber land lines in many areas. These telephones often allow for more types of communication than voice alone. They may also have the ability to transfer data, such as text messages, email, photographs, or music, and allow access to the Internet.

Other areas that fall into the telecommunications industry are radio and television. Radio uses radio waves to send auditory information wirelessly to receivers. Television uses a similar method to transmit visual and auditory information. Many radio and television services have transferred to digital transmissions that allow the information to be broadcast either through signal towers, the Internet, cable technology, or satellites.

The Internet is a global network of computers that communicate with one another through a standard code, or language, called internet protocol (IP). Using it, communications such as text, photographs, music, and graphics can move through the Internet as digital information. Generally, IP breaks this information into packets, and each packet can then be sent through the most efficient Internet route to its target or recipient. The packets are reassembled by IP at their destination.

The Internet has, in many ways, become a dominant force in the telecommunications industry. Most of these businesses use the Internet in some way to transmit communications. Many trade professionals suggest that this trend will continue as technology advances.

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