Telecommunication: A Brief History

Communication has seen a series of drastic revolutions since the 20th century. The telephone, as pioneered by Bell and Edison, was already widely in use by the time the 1900s rolled along, but up until that point, it required a network of wires in order to allow communication instantly over large distances. That all changed with the invention of wireless telegraphy by Marconi. It allowed Morse code messages to be sent and received between wireless devices and played a pivotal role in communication during WWI.

As wireless radiotelegraphy gave way to radiotelephony that allowed transmission of sound, radio broadcasting was born. Without this technology, the BBC would quite possibly never have seen the light of day.

Fast forward a few generations, and everybody has a mobile phone in their pockets. They are no longer just devices for making phone calls or sending text messages either. They are fully-fledged handheld computing devices, with more power and storage than a desktop computer had two decades ago. It’s rather staggering to think that all of the world’s information is now truly available in the palm of your hand.

The massive amounts of data that is exchanged between computers and mobile devices every day would not be possible without the communications networks that make it possible. Although wireless connections are all the rage, they still require a backbone of a physical cable. In this regard, the analogue signals that used to be transmitted over copper cables have already largely been replaced by fibre optic cable. All the incredibly high bandwidth undersea cables that transmit data between continents transmit data digitally using light pulses.

All the data that reaches your mobile device over that blazingly fast 4G LTE network has been through a fibre optic backbone before being transmitted by a cellular tower. If you wave your hand through the air, you could be touching someone’s email, for all you know.