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What's the difference between guided and unguided transmission media?

Guided transmission media use physical paths for data transmission, while unguided media transmit data wirelessly.

Guided transmission media, also known as bounded media, involve the use of a physical conduit or path through which the signals are sent. This includes media such as twisted pair cables, coaxial cables, and fibre-optic cables. The data signals are guided along a specific path, hence the name. These types of media are typically used in telecommunications and computer networking where a direct wired connection is required. They offer high speed, high capacity transmission and are less susceptible to interference, but their use is limited by the physical constraints of the medium, such as the length and routing of the cable.

On the other hand, unguided transmission media, also known as unbounded or wireless media, do not use a physical path for data transmission. Instead, they use waves or signals that are broadcast through the air and can be received by any device capable of picking up the signal. This includes media such as radio waves, microwaves, and infrared waves. These types of media are typically used in wireless communication systems, such as mobile phones, Wi-Fi networks, and satellite communications. They offer the advantage of mobility and flexibility, as they do not require a physical connection. However, they are more susceptible to interference and have lower capacity and speed compared to guided media.

IB Computer Science Tutor Summary: Guided transmission media involve physical cables, like twisted pair, coaxial, or fibre-optic, for direct, high-speed data transmission with less interference but are limited by their physical nature. Unguided transmission media, or wireless, use signals like radio waves for flexible and mobile communication but face more interference and offer lower speeds. Each has its advantages depending on the need for mobility or speed and reliability.

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