The Components of a Telecommunications System

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  • 0:07 Telecommuniction Systems
  • 0:59 Components
  • 3:17 Computer Network
  • 4:56 Types of Networks
  • 7:23 Network Properties
  • 8:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Paul Zandbergen

Paul is a GIS professor at Vancouver Island U, has a PhD from U of British Columbia, and has taught stats and programming for 15 years.

Expert Contributor
Christianlly Cena

Christianlly has taught college physics and facilitated laboratory courses. He has a master's degree in Physics and is pursuing his doctorate study.

Telecommunication is communication at a distance using electrical signals or electromagnetic waves. Learn about the components and properties of telecommunication systems.

Telecommunication Systems

Consider for a moment all the different communications that take place in an organization. Some communications are face to face, but others use some type of technology. Think of email, phone calls, text messaging, viewing pages on the Internet, downloading files. All of these communications make use of a telecommunications system. A telecommunications system is a collection of nodes and links to enable telecommunication. Telecommunication is communication at a distance using electrical signals or electromagnetic waves.

Examples of telecommunications systems are the telephone network, the radio broadcasting system, computer networks and the Internet. The nodes in the system are the devices we use to communicate with, such as a telephone or a computer.

Components of a Telecommunication System

In its most fundamental form, a telecommunication system includes a transmitter to take information and convert it to a signal, a transmission medium to carry the signal and a receiver to take the signal and convert it back into usable information. This applies to any communication system, whether it uses computers or not.

Most modern day telecommunications systems are best described in terms of a network. This includes the basic elements listed above but also the infrastructure and controls needed to support the system. There are six basic components to a telecommunications network.

1. Input and output devices, also referred to as 'terminals'

These provide the starting and stopping points of all communication. A telephone is an example of a terminal. In computer networks, these devices are commonly referred to as 'nodes' and consist of computer and peripheral devices.

2. Telecommunication channels, which transmit and receive data

This includes various types of cables and wireless radio frequencies.

3. Telecommunication processors, which provide a number of control and support functions

For example, in many systems, data needs to be converted from analog to digital and back.

4. Control software, which is responsible for controlling the functionality and activities of the network

5. Messages represent the actual data that is being transmitted

In the case of a telephone network, the messages would consist of audio as well as data.

6. Protocols specify how each type of telecommunication systems handle the messages

For example, GSM and 3G are protocols for mobile phone communications, and TCP/IP is a protocol for communications over the Internet.

While early telecommunication systems were built without computers, almost all systems we use today are computerized in some way.

Computer Network

A computer network is a system of computers and peripheral devices that are connected electronically. These connected computers can communicate with each other, which means that they can share information. Each computer has its own network address, so it can be uniquely identified among all the computers in a network. Computer networks are able to carry different types of data and support different applications.

Computers are connected using a number of different types of communication channels. These include both wired and wireless connections. Wired connections consist of an actual physical cable, such as copper wire or fiber optics. Wireless connections do not use a physical cable but transfer data using waves at a particular part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Why do we need a computer network? Transferring files between individual computers can be accomplished using physical media, such as DVDs or external hard drives, but a computer network makes it possible to transfer data between computers without having to use physical media.

Some of the advantages of computer networks are:

  • File sharing
  • Internet connection sharing
  • Sharing of peripheral devices
  • Improved cost efficiency
  • Increased storage capacity

The network itself can also carry out tasks that are difficult for any single computer to do. These network services have become increasingly important as many different types of devices are connected to each other.

Different Types of Networks

There are a number of different ways to describe computer networks, including network size, transmission media, management method and network topology. Network size relates to the geographic area occupied by the computers and the network and the behavior of the computers when data is shared. For example, a local area network, or LAN, consists of a computer network at a single site, typically an individual building. A wide area network, or WAN, occupies a very large area, such as an entire country or the entire world. The Internet is the best-known example of a WAN.

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Additional Activities

Crossword Puzzle on Telecommunications System


This crossword puzzle touches on the components of a telecommunications system. Complete the crossword by filling in a word that fits each of the given clues. To do this, you have two options: (1) draw the crossword puzzle (shown below) using a colored pen on a sheet of paper or (2) right click to save the image and print it. With a pencil and an eraser, neatly write your answers in the boxes provided. For comparison, an answer key is also included at the end of the section.


2. It refers to how often the network does not perform as expected.

4. A control software is responsible for controlling the functionality and activities of the _____.

6. This refers to the actual data that is transmitted over a telecommunications network.

8. Computer networks are used to share information, carry different types of data and support different _____.

10. The data transfer rate or the maximum rate of data transferred over a network at a specified amount of time.


1. The branch of technology concerned with the transmission of information over a distance using electrical signals or electromagnetic waves.

3. It plays an important role in communication systems because it sets the rules on how the messages are handled.

5. The type of connection does not require a physical cable but delivers data using waves.

7. The layout of the interconnections between the computers in a network is called _____.

9. These are devices in a system that is attached to a network and are used for communication.

Answer Key

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