How are microwaves used in telecommunications?
Microwaves are widely used for point-to-point communications because their small wavelengths allow appropriately sized antennas to direct them in narrow beams that can be pointed directly at receiving antennas. This allows nearby microwave devices to use the same frequency without interfering with each other like low-frequency radio waves do. This frequency reuse saves scarce radio spectrum bandwidth. Another advantage of microwaves is their high frequency, which makes the microwave band have a very large information-carrying capacity; the bandwidth of the microwave band is 30 times that of the radio spectrum below it. The downside is that microwaves are limited to line-of-sight propagation; they cannot go around hills or mountains like low-frequency radio waves can.
Microwave radio transmissions are commonly used in point-to-point communication systems on the Earth's surface, satellite communications, and deep space radio communications. Other parts of the microwave radio band are used for radar, radio navigation systems, sensor systems and radio astronomy.
The next higher band of the radio spectrum (between 30 GHz and 300 GHz) is called "millimeter waves" because they have wavelengths ranging from 10 mm to 1 mm. Radio waves in this frequency band are strongly attenuated by gases in the atmosphere. This limits their practical transmission distance to a few kilometers, so these frequencies cannot be used for long-distance communication. The electronics required for mmWave bands also developed earlier than those for microwave bands.
Wireless transmission of information
One-way and two-way telecommunications using communication satellites
Terrestrial microwave relay links in telecommunications networks, including backbone or backhaul carriers in cellular networks
More recently, microwaves have been used for wireless power transfer.
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