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wireline communication

Contributor(s): Laura Fitzgibbons

Wireline communication (also known as wired communication) is the transmission of information over a physical filament. Alternatively, communication technologies that transmit information over-the-air (OTA) are called wireless.

Common examples of wireline communication include landline phone systems, television and desktop computers that use Ethernet to connect to the internet. Wireline communication generally falls under three categories: fiber optic, coaxial and twisted pair.

Fiber optic - filament consists of one or more optical fibers, each of which is capable of transmitting messages modulated onto light waves. There are two primary types of fiber optic cable: single-mode and multi-mode. Single-mode fiber is used for longer distances and the light source is typically a laser. Multi-mode fiber is used for shorter distances and the light source is typically a light emitting diode (LED).

Coaxial cable - filament consists of copper cable specially built with a metal shield and other components engineered to block signal interference. Coaxial cable is primarily used by cable TV companies to connect their satellite antenna facilities to customer homes and businesses. It is also used by telephone companies to connect central offices to telephone poles near customers.

Twisted pair - filament consists of two insulated copper wires that are twisted around each other to reduce crosstalk or electromagnetic induction. Although twisted pair is often associated with home use, a higher grade of twisted pair is often used for horizontal wiring in local area network (LAN) installations because it is less expensive than coaxial cable. For some business locations, twisted pair is enclosed in a shield that functions as a ground. This is known as shielded twisted pair (STP). Ordinary wire to the home is unshielded twisted pair (UTP). NBASE-T Ethernet is an IEEE standard and Ethernet-signaling technology that allows existing twisted-pair copper cabling to exceed the cable's specified limit of 1 Gbps for distances of up to 100 meters. (See also: Categories of twisted pair cabling)

Technically, it can be argued that all wireless communication should also be considered wireline communication because at some point of the communication chain, physical wires will be used to capture wireless signals.

This was last updated in June 2018

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