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guided media vs unguided media | Difference between guided media and unguided media

This page compares guided media vs unguided media and mentions difference between guided media and unguided media.

Introduction:
A communication channel is called as a medium. Different types of transmission media is used for different data transfer rates and distances. The transmission media is a physical path between transmitter and receiver in a data transmission system. Higher the bandwidth of transmission media means higher data rates.

Guided Media

Waves are guided along solid medium. Such media use a conductor such as a wire or a fiber optic cable to move the signal from sender to the receiver.
Examples:
• Twisted pair wire
• Coaxial cable
• Fiber optic cable

Unguided Media

Such media are radio waves of different frequencies and do not need a wire or cable conductor to transmit signals.
Examples:
• Microwave
• Radio
• Infrared
• Satellites

There are three important parameters used to charaterize a medium as follows.
Bandwidth: Number of bits per second
Delay: Time elapsed until data starts arriving at the other end.
Loss: Error rate

Following table summarizes difference between guided media and unguided media.

Guided media Unguided media
The signal energy propagates within the guided meia. The signal energy propagates through the air.
Guided media is mainly used for point to point communication. Unguided media is mainly used for broadcasting purpose.
The signal propagates in the guided media in the form of voltage, current or photons. The signal propagates in the unguided media in the form of EM waves.
Examples: twisted pair cables, coaxial cable, optical fiber cable. Examples: Microwave or radio links, infrared

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