Networking - Media

Guided and unguided media are two types of transmission media used in computer networks to transmit data between devices. They differ in the way they transmit signals and the physical medium they utilize. 

Guided Media:

Guided media, also known as bounded or wired media, refer to transmission media that utilize physical pathways to guide and contain the signals being transmitted. These media provide a physical connection between the sender and receiver devices. Some common examples of guided media include:

  • Twisted Pair Cable: This type of cable consists of pairs of insulated copper wires twisted together. It is commonly used in Ethernet networks for short to medium-distance communication.
  • Coaxial Cable: Coaxial cable consists of a central conductor surrounded by an insulating layer, a metallic shield, and an outer insulating layer. It is often used for cable television (CATV) and broadband Internet connections.
  • Fiber Optic Cable: Fiber optic cable uses thin strands of glass or plastic to transmit data as pulses of light. It offers high-speed and long-distance transmission capabilities and is widely used in high-bandwidth networks.

Key Features of Guided Media:

  • They provide a physical pathway for signals, ensuring controlled transmission.
  • The signal propagation is confined to the physical medium, reducing interference and signal loss.
  • Guided media offer varying levels of bandwidth, signal quality, and distance limitations depending on the type of cable.

Unguided Media:

Unguided media, also known as unbounded or wireless media, refer to transmission media that do not require a physical pathway for signal transmission. These media use wireless signals to transmit data through the atmosphere or free space. Some common examples of unguided media include:

  • Radio Waves: Radio waves are electromagnetic waves that are widely used for wireless communication, including Wi-Fi networks, cellular networks, and Bluetooth connections.
  • Microwaves: Microwaves are electromagnetic waves with higher frequencies than radio waves. They are used in microwave communication systems such as point-to-point links and satellite communications.
  • Infrared Waves: Infrared waves are used in applications such as infrared remote controls and short-range wireless data transfer.

Key Features of Unguided Media:

  • They provide wireless communication capabilities without the need for physical cables or connections.
  • Unguided media enable mobility and flexibility in network connectivity, allowing devices to communicate wirelessly within a certain range.
  • Signal propagation in unguided media can be affected by environmental factors such as distance, interference, and obstacles.