Types of Communication Technology

By James Wright

Cell phones make use of satellite technology to send data anywhere on the planet.
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Technology has enabled a plethora of ways for humans to communicate with each other and broadcast information to vast audiences. Early inventions like radio and the telephone have evolved into vast, worldwide networks of undersea cables and satellites. Technology has expanded how fast we can communicate and in how many ways, even letting us send photos and video across the world from a device that can fit in our pocket.

Telephone/Mobile Phone

Since the telephone's invention by Alexander Graham Bell in March of 1876, the telephone has come a long way. Telephones used landlines to send signals across the country, and later made use of undersea cables to let people communicate with those in other countries. The first cell phone, as the term is commonly understood, was invented in 1973, the first call being made by Dr. Martin Cooper of Motorola to his rival at Bell Labs. Since then, phones have come to enable much more than vocal communication, using tower and satellite signals to send text messages and data such as video and images.


Early radio communication was used primarily by the sea vessels in the 1900s and 1910s, with naval and merchant vessels making use of the technology for communicating with other ships. Radio on land started with advertising, but producers knew that people wouldn't listen unless they were entertained. Drama programs soon became a staple of popular radio in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Radio has since expanded to be a dominant form of communication technology; in September 2011, the FCC reported that there were 14,865 radio stations in the U.S. alone.


Full-scale television broadcasting in the US began in 1947, and at first, many thought it would not last. Inventor Lee DeForest said, "While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility." However, in the year 2010, U.S. households had over 115 million TVs, with almost 99 percent of households reporting owning at least one set. There are now thousands of TV channels covering everything from sports and music to reality shows, game shows and even adult entertainment.


The Internet as we know it came about in the early 1990s as a result of research into a number of previous telecommunications projects such as ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) that were used primarily by the military. The basic idea was connecting different computers together to allow the transfer of data. Like phones, the Internet makes heavy use of landlines and undersea cables, though wireless devices can connect to the Internet using wireless and satellite connections. The Internet has exploded in popularity, with 2.5 billion people using the Internet worldwide. It has also enabled many different types of communication, such as email, instant messaging and voice and audio chat.