FDM versus TDM-Difference between FDM and TDM

This page on FDM versus TDM describes difference between FDM and TDM multiplexing. FDM is the short form of frequency division multiplexing and TDM is the short form of time division multiplexing.


In FDM each signal is modulated onto different unique RF carrier frequency and all carrier frequencies are separated significantly so that bandwidth of the signals do not overlap in frequency domain.

FDM-frequency division multiplexing
Fig.1 FDM

As shown in the fig.1 four signal sources are fed into a multiplexer and that each modulates onto different RF carriers i.e. f1,f2,f3 and f4. To prevent interference between adjacent channels i.e. adjacent channel interference, each RF carriers are separated by guard bands. To understand more on difference between FDM and TDM, also refer FDMA vs TDMA vs CDMA.


In TDM, more than one digital signals can be carried on single medium for transmission by interleaving each signals in time.

TDM-time division multiplexing
Fig.2 TDM

As shown in figure 2, four channels each having about 2.4 kbps data rate can accommodate/multiplexed onto a single line having capacity to carry 9.6kbps using TDM. TDM is not only used for digital signals but also used for analog signals also.

Combination of TDM and FDM scheme is also possible where in first frequency is divided into number of channels as required by system and later each channel is further divided into time intervals via TDM.


1. TDM is employed in PCM transmission to obtain T1 at the rate of 1.544Mbps.
2. FDM is employed in satellite,Radio,HF and other wireless technologies.
3. Both TDM and FDM is employed in GSM cellular technology, Refer GSM Frame Structure for more information. GSM frame structure uses FTDMA (combination of FDMA and TDMA).

This page describes very basic difference between TDM and FDM multiplexing techniques very useful for telecom engineers.


To know more on FDMA refer satellite tutorial
To know more on TDMA refer GSM tutorial
To know more on CDMA refer CDMA tutorial
For TDMA basics,types of TDMA and mention disadvantages,READ MORE

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