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Science

Wireless signals

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Wireless communication is convenient. It is used for radio programmes, mobile phones and computer networks. DAB broadcasts have advantages and disadvantages compared to traditional analogue broadcasts.

Uses of wireless technology

Electromagnetic radiation can be used for wireless communications. For example:

  • radio waves are used to transmit television and radio programmes
  • microwaves are used to transmit mobile phone calls.

Radio stations with similar transmission frequencies can interfere with each other’s signals.

Microwaves are also used to network computers together, especially laptop computers.

Wireless communications can be available all of the time, almost anywhere. They have several advantages over wired communications. These include:

  • no wires need to be run through buildings, over ground or underground
  • wireless devices can be portable.

An aerial is needed to pick up the signals but these are much smaller in equipment today than in the past. They are not even visible in modern mobile phones and laptop computers.

DAB and FM broadcasts

Radio stations whose transmitters are near each other need to broadcast on different frequencies to avoid interference between the signals.

DAB - Digital Audio Broadcasting - is a digital system for transmitting radio programmes. FM, Frequency Modulation, is an analogue system for transmitting radio programmes. Both have advantages and disadvantages. For example:

DAB makes more radio stations available and suffers from less interference from other broadcasts. On the other hand, DAB may have a poorer audio quality than FM, and not all areas of the UK are currently covered by DAB broadcasts.

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