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Data Transfer

Data transmission, digital transmission, or digital communications is the physical transfer of data (a digital bit stream) over a point-to-point or point-to-multipoint communication channel. Examples of such channels are copper wires, optical fibres, wireless communication channels, and storage media. The data are represented as an electromagnetic signal, such as an electrical voltage, radiowave, microwave, or infrared signal.

While analog transmission is the transfer of a continuously varying analog signal, digital communications is the transfer of discrete messages. The messages are either represented by a sequence of pulses by means of a line code (baseband transmission), or by a limited set of continuously varying wave forms (passband transmission), using a digital modulation method. The passband modulation and corresponding demodulation (also known as detection) is carried out by modem equipment. According to the most common definition of digital signal, both baseband and passband signals representing bit-streams are considered as digital transmission, while an alternative definition only considers the baseband signal as digital, and passband transmission of digital data as a form of digital-to-analog conversion.

Data transmitted may be digital messages originating from a data source, for example a computer or a keyboard. It may also be an Analog signal such as a phone call or a video signal, digitized into a bit-stream for example using pulse-code modulation (PCM) or more advanced source coding (analog-to-digital conversion and data compression) schemes. This source coding and decoding is carried out by codec equipment.

Digital transmission or data transmission traditionally belongs to telecommunications and electrical engineering. Basic principles of data transmission may also be covered within the computer science/computer engineering topic of data communications, which also includes computer networking or computer communication applications and networking protocols, for example routing, switching and inter-process communication. Although the Transmission control protocol (TCP) involves the term "transmission", TCP and other transport layer protocols are typically not discussed in a textbook or course about data transmission, but in computer networking.