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Overview: transceivers

Networking is a relatively recent phenomenon, but it has managed to absorb and capitalize on previously existing technologies. The business world thrives on constant innovation, and it always helps to get a little blast from the past. Transceivers are a prime example of 20th century technology that has been revamped to meet the needs of 21st century networking. While once used strictly for radio, transceivers have become an important part of wireless technology. Technically, every cell phone is a transceiver because the term simply refers to any device that sends and receives signals. It is important to note that in order to qualify as a transceiver, a device must perform both signal receipt and transmission functions at more or less equal rates. There are four different types of transceivers: radio, RFs, telephone, and Ethernet. A radio transceiver is a machine that sends and picks up radio signals. These can be used for amateur radio broadcasting, CB radios, or hand held walkie-talkies. RF transceivers are used for high speed data transmission as well as converting certain kinds of digital signals into analog. As mentioned earlier, all telephones are transceivers because they permit users to send and receive calls. Finally, Ethernet transceivers help power computer and fiber optic cable networks. Ethernet transceivers first came about in the late 1970s. Inventors were trying to figure out a way for multiple computers to communicate using a single coaxial cable. Early versions worked in a manner similar to that of radio broadcasting, but this caused signal collisions. The coaxial cable was eventually replaced by point to point links in an Ethernet hub that provide fairly reliable services.

Many cellular phone transceivers actually incorporate radio waves into their scheme. A cell phone sends and receives calls through a base station, otherwise known as a transmitter tower. Radio waves physically transfer the signals to and from the mobile device. Some cell phones do not use radio waves at all. Instead, they depend on satellites to transfer the signals. GPS systems employ this type of signal transmission, too. Ethernet transceivers are available at most electronic stores as well as internet based retailers. Leading manufacturers include Linksys, Cisco, TRENDnet, Transition, D-Link, Hewlett Packard, 3com, SMC, StarTech, and LevelOne. Prices range from about $50 to $3,000. In terms of cell phones, there are a number of popular carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, Nokia, Motorola, Apple, Google, LG, Sanyo, Samsung, HTC, Palm, Sony, and Pantech. Prices for plans and phones themselves vary considerably.