What are six types of communication media and where are they used for what purpose?

  • Wire - Cheap, simple, compatible with old equipment, must be amplified for long distances
  • Optical - Fast, long distance, high bandwidth, can carry multiple data streams on one cable, expensive, can break easily
  • Wireless RF - Simple, no cables, expandable, no line-of-sight required, long distance
  • Wireless IR - Cheap, line-of-sight required

That's all folks! I honestly don't think there are any other network medias. Unless you split wire into coax (thick copper), UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair), STP (Shielded Twisted Pair), etc. But I may be wrong.

-DJ Craig

Big bandwidth, slow response

Let's think "outside the box" for a moment:

Nobody ever said this question was about "data" communication between digital devices. There are many other well-known media for information communication, including air and other fluids, using numerous different signalling means:

Don't forget the "communication channel" of physical delivery of pre-recorded media! It is often MUCH cheaper and efficient to send a taxi full of CDROMS across town (or mail it some arbitrary distance) than to create a point-to-point microwave highway or complicated digital network to deliver the same data, if you don't care when it gets there. Plus, you have the advantage of keeping your expensive digital bandwidth available for time-sensitive data. This is Information Theory 101.

Also, where does satellite fit in? It would be wireless RF (microwave), line of sight, thousands of miles up and back.

  • Let's not forget "audio" media for communication, sonic and ultra-sonic, as well as
  • "visible" using air or fluids (not fibers) as medium (blinking light, flags, etc),
  • pressure signals are often used in hydraulic or pneumatic systems;
  • mechanical signals are used for communication of status or RPM information;
  • thermal signals can communicate information through various media (although not always quickly);
  • paper is a medium often used for communication, such as things we used to call "books" or "newspapers".