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Horia Coman
Horia Coman

Posted on • Originally published at horia141.com on

Communication Networks

Here’s a highly simplified list of major telecommunication networks people have built, in somewhat historical order: mail service, telegraph, telephone, radio, television, the internet.

Surprisingly, the physical mail service and the internet have something in common, which sets them apart from all the other β€œadvanced” networks. They are agnostic to what they’re transporting. Whereas the telegraph can only transport telegrams and radio send radio transmissions, the internet, in particular, can be adapted to send most anything - mail, files, voice, TV etc. About the only thing it can’t transport is physical goods, and that’s where the mail service comes in.

It is also a testament to the power of communication, that such massive infrastructure projects as the telephone or televsion were constructed, to send essentially one type of signal, fulfilling a single function. However, as the internet evolves, it makes less and less sense to have dedicated networks for a particular type of message, and more and more sense to overlay them on the general communication network.

Indeed, Skype & most messaging apps, Netflix & internet video sites, are basically doing just this, but coming from the application side, rather than lower on the stack. There’s also more general approaches, such as VoIP, IPTV etc.

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