Telecommunication is the exchange of signs, signals, messages, words, writings, images and sounds or information of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems. Telecommunication occurs when the exchange of information between communication participants includes the use of technology. It is transmitted through a transmission medium, such as over physical media, for example, over electrical cable, or via electromagnetic radiation through space such as radio or light. Such transmission paths are often divided into communication channels which afford the advantages of multiplexing. Since the Latin term communication is considered the social process of information exchange, the term telecommunications is often used in its plural form 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. 20th- and 21st-century technologies for long-distance communication usually involve electrical and electromagnetic technologies, such as telegraph, telephone, and teleprinter, networks, radio, microwave transmission, optical fiber, and communications satellites.