The development of communication technology is, as much as anything, a story of the strategies for coping with adversity. ‘Adversity’ in this context means, for example, noise and interference, which are unavoidable and which cause error. It also refers to the unpredictable and uncontrollable characteristics of many communication channels, such as telephone lines and radio environments. Strategies for dealing with adversity here include the use of compression to minimise the amount of data that needs to be transmitted, the use of subchannels which enable particular parts of the frequency spectrum to be treated independently of others, and the variable orders of QAM, which enable data throughput to be tailored to prevailing conditions.
All the topics in this free course, Exploring communications technolgy, and more, are covered in greater length and depth in the Open University course, which can be studied as a stand-alone course or as part of the University’s Computing and IT BSc degree.