Telecommunication is communication at a distance by technological means, particularly through electrical signals or electromagnetic waves. The word is often used in its plural form, telecommunications, because it involves many different technologies.
Early means of communicating over a distance included visual signals, such as beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags, and optical heliographs. Other examples of pre-modern long-distance communication included audio messages such as coded drumbeats, lung-blown horns, and loud whistles. Modern technologies for long-distance communication usually involve electrical and electromagnetic technologies, such as telegraph, telephone, and teleprinter, networks, radio, microwave transmission, fiber optics, and communications satellites.
A revolution in wireless communication began in the first decade of the 20th century with the pioneering developments in radio communications by Guglielmo Marconi, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1909. Other highly notable pioneering inventors and developers in the field of electrical and electronic telecommunications include Charles Wheatstone and Samuel Morse (telegraph), Alexander Graham Bell (telephone), Edwin Armstrong, and Lee de Forest (radio), as well as John Logie Baird and Philo Farnsworth (television).
Modulation can also be used to transmit the information of low-frequency analog signals at higher frequencies. This is helpful because low-frequency analog signals cannot be effectively transmitted over free space. Hence the information from a low-frequency analog signal must be impressed into a higher-frequency signal (known as the "carrier wave") before transmission. There are several different modulation schemes available to achieve this [two of the most basic being amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM)]. An example of this process is a disc jockey's voice being impressed into a 96 MHz carrier wave using frequency modulation (the voice would then be received on a radio as the channel "96 FM"). In addition, modulation has the advantage that it may use frequency division multiplexing (FDM).