What is Transmission media? and Its Types?

Transmission media

In data communication, a transmission medium can be broadly defined as anything that can carry information from a source to a destination i.e. it is the channel through which data is sent from one place to another. For example, the transmission medium for two people having a dinner conversation is the air.

Transmission media can be classified into :

fig: Classes of transmission media

What are the different types of guided transmission media?

Guided media :

Guided media, also called Wired or Bounded transmission media, provides a conduit from one device to another by using physical links. It includes twisted-pair cable, coaxial cable, and fiber-optic cable.

  1. Twisted-pair cable :

It comprises two separate insulated conductor wires wound around each other. Several such pairs are usually bundled together in a protective sheath. There are two types of twisted-pair cables :

  • Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP): Most commonly used for Ethernet networks. It consists of pairs of twisted copper wires, and each pair is further insulated and twisted to reduce crosstalk and interference.


  • Least expensive
  • Easy to install
  • High-speed capacity


  • Susceptible to external interference
  • Lower capacity and performance in comparison to STP
  • Short-distance transmission due to attenuation

  • Shielded Twisted Pair (STP): Similar to UTP but with additional shielding to better protect against external electromagnetic interference.

Advantages :

  • Better performance at a higher data rate in comparison to UTP
  • Eliminates crosstalk
  • Comparatively faster

Disadvantages :

  • Comparatively difficult to install and manufacture
  • highly expensive

2. Coaxial Cable:

Consists of a central copper conductor surrounded by an insulating layer, a metallic shielding, and an outer protective sheath. Used in older Ethernet networks (10BASE2 and 10BASE5), as well as for cable television (CATV) and broadband internet connections.


  • easy installation
  • high bandwidth
  • Better immunity to noise
  • cheap

Disadvantages :

  • Connections are in series, therefore single cable can disrupt the entire network

3. Optical Fiber Cable:

The optical fiber cable works on the concept of refraction of light through a core made up of glass or plastic. Its core is surrounded by a less denser glass which is also called the cladding. The cable can be unidirectional or bidirectional. It is used for the transmission of large volumes of data.

Advantages :

  • Increased capacity and bandwidth
  • Less signal attenuation
  • Immunity to electromagnetic interference
  • Resistance to corrosive materials

Disadvantages :

  • Difficulty in installation
  • high maintenance
  • Expensive

Unguided media :

Unguided media transport electromagnetic waves without using a physical conductor. This type of communication is often referred to as wireless communication. In this media, different types of waves are transferred such as Radio Waves, Microwaves, and infrared waves.

  1. Radio Wave :

Radio waves are used for multicast communications, such as radio and television, and paging systems. They can penetrate through walls. Highly regulated. Use Omni directional antennas. Range: 3KHz – 1GHz

2. Microwave :

Microwaves are used for unicast communication such as cellular telephones, satellite networks, and wireless LANs. Higher frequency ranges cannot penetrate walls. Use directional antennas – point-to-point line-of-sight communications. Frequency Range:1GHz – 300GHz

3. Infrared waves :

Infrared signals can be used for short-range communication in a closed area using line-of-sight propagation. Frequency Range:300GHz – 400THz .

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