Talk:Optical communication

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The phrase "Aircraft use the landing lights at airports to land safely" is a bit silly. "Landing lights" are mounted on Aircraft, not on the ground. It should read "Aircraft use Runway lights at airports to land safely". Also I doubt this has much to do with communication. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gutta Percha (talkcontribs) 13:43, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

It would be nice if an expert could give a plain-English basic example or description of how fiber optic communication works. This is very heavy reading, and almost indecipherable for somebody without extensive knowledge on a whole host of related topics.

I think this page needs to be merged with optical telegraph. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus 21:08, 9 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Optical fibers are quite different from semaphones, which are the major focus of optical telegraph. Dilbert 17:06, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Directly modulated lasers[edit]

The point that the chirp induced pulse broadening is a main degradation in directly modulated laser systems is ambigous, since is it the chirp that limits the transmission distance or the tolerable input power to the fiber.

Propose move to new article title: Optical telecommunication[edit]

When humans interact with each other face-to-face, they are said to 'communicate', while when they do so from a distance using technical means (even smoke), they are using 'telecommunication'. This should be clarified in the article's title, which should properly read "Optical telecommunication". I believe other similar articles on Wikipedia have been changed from 'communication' to 'telecommunication'.

If this is uncontroversial to editors and there is no need to post this to the formal Move notice board, then the article can be retitled by a simple 'move' command, with an associated redirect page created for people using the old title. Comments? Best: HarryZilber (talk) 16:56, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

(Article was moved in the interval between the comment above and the one below.)
I disagree with your narrow definition of the term "communication". All human communication is "communication", whether by technical means or otherwise. Communication between machines is "communication" too. I propose that we move the article back to its original title.--Srleffler (talk) 06:36, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
Hi Srleffler, thank you for your comment. I anticipated that other editors would raise the objection you have now done and I'm confident that the preponderance of information on the subject can sway you. While I agree that 'communication' in a general sense refers to all types of communications, and is supported as such in general dictionaries, that doesn't mean it's the best descriptor for Wikipedia's articles on communication technologies and science.
Please refer to common definitions for telecommunications, which generally state: "
  1. The science and technology of communication at a distance by electronic transmission of impulses, as by telegraph, cable, telephone, radio, or television. Often used in the plural with a singular verb: Telecommunications is an important area of professional growth.
  2. The electronic systems used in transmitting messages, as by telegraph, cable, telephone, radio, or television. Often used in the plural with a plural verb: Telecommunications were disrupted by the brownout.
  3. A message so transmitted."
...and please refer to the MOS section on article titles, which asks us to use:
"....Precision – Titles usually use names and terms that are precise enough to unambiguously identify the topical scope of the article, but not overly precise., plus:
"....Consistency – Titles follow the same pattern as those of similar articles. Many of these patterns are documented in the naming guidelines listed in the Specific-topic naming conventions box above, and ideally indicate titles that are in accordance with the principles above."
I'm sure that the technical difficulties of this name change can be resolved, and by doing so it would bring us in line with the majority of similar articles which use 'telecommunication', not 'communication'. Best: HarryZilber (talk) 20:02, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for quoting this definition, which proves that this article needs to be moved back. The definition that you quoted makes it clear that telecommunications refers specifically to communication "at a distance by electronic transmission of impulses". This article covers topics including smoke signals, beacon fires, hydraulic telegraphs, ship flags and semaphore lines, none of which involve electronic transmission of impulses. By your own definition, this article's topic is too broad to be classed as "telecommunications", and it must be moved back to its original and appropriate title "Optical communication".--Srleffler (talk) 02:40, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
Since we're quoting definitions, note that the first definition linked to on the page you cited defines "communication" as "The exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, signals, writing, or behavior."[1] (Emphasis mine). Contrary to your statement at the top of this section, "communication" is the exchange of messages by any means (even by technological means at a distance), and "telecommunication" is communication by means of electronic impulses. Not all communication at a distance is "telecommunication", but all telecommunication is "communication", by definition.--Srleffler (talk) 03:36, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

Suggested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Moved to Optical communication, reverting undiscussed move Mike Cline (talk) 22:44, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Optical telecommunicationOptical communication – As shown immediately above, this article was recently moved from "Optical communication" to "Optical telecommunication" with no discussion (but with fair warning—no fault on the process). I propose to move it back. As discussed immediately above, "telecommunication" refers to communication by means of electronic transmission of impulses. This article covers topics which include smoke signals, beacon fires, hydraulic telegraphs, ship flags and semaphore lines, none of which involves electronic impulses. The topic of this article is too broad for the current title; it needs to be moved back to its original title. Srleffler (talk) 02:54, 9 February 2013 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's policy on article titles.
  • Support, for reasons given above and below.--Srleffler (talk) 00:55, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. The analysis is correct. Telecommunication does not include smoke signals etc. Apteva (talk) 20:46, 13 February 2013 (UTC)


Any additional comments:

Oppose : for several reasons. My earlier definition provided to Srleffler earlier was unfortunately incomplete due to a bit of shoveling that was overdue (literally typed it up quickly while on the way out).

  • More complete definitions include: "1) communication at a distance (as by telephone) 2) technology that deals with telecommunication —usually used in plural" (Websters);
and: "Communication between parties at a distance from one another. Modern telecommunication systems—capable of transmitting telephone, fax,... etc..." (Concise Encyclopedia, as part of the Webster's webpage);
and: "The science and technology of the communication or messages over a distance, especially using electric, electronic or electromagnetic impulses. [1932] (Wiktionary)
  • The Etemology is revealing, naturally (from the Online Etymology Dictionary): "telecommunication (n.) 1932, from French télécommunication (see tele- + communication)." The prefix tele- derives from the Greek for 'far-', so the full word naturally means 'far-communication'; and: " 1930s: from French télécommunication, from télé- 'at a distance' + communication 'communication' ", (Oxford online)
  • The earlier definition provided from the online American Heritage, as noted earlier, stated: "The science and technology of communication at a distance by electronic transmission of impulses, as by telegraph, cable, telephone, radio, or television...." (my emphasis). Note the wording as by, not only by. Nothing in the definition limits it only to electronic means, although in the modern age not too many people try to send international messages by smoke signals or semaphores. Nonetheless, smoke signals, semaphores, etc... are also ancient forms of telecommunication, since they provide communication at a distance.
  • Wikipedia's own article on Telecommunication states:
"Telecommunication in the modern era is the science and practice of transmitting information by electromagnetic means.
In earlier times, telecommunications involved the use of visual signals, such as beacons, smoke signals, semaphore telegraphs, signal flags, and optical heliographs, or audio messages such as coded drumbeats, lung-blown horns, and loud whistles. In modern times, telecommunications involves the use of electrical devices such as the telegraph, telephone, and teleprinter, as well as the use of radio, microwave transmission towers, fiber optics, orbiting satellites and the Internet, which is a vast world-wide computer network....."
The article then provides separate sections on both ancient and Middle Ages systems of telecommunications.
  • This article which is under discussion, Optical telecommunication, is a general discussion and listing of several forms of optical telecommunication technologies. Unfortunately Srleffler has only mentioned the archaic forms in support of his request. Major sections of the article are additionally provided for electrical forms, such as Free-space optical telecommunication, Photophone and Optical fibre, and since the article is being expanded it will also later include several other sections on other electronic forms (LED and Laser telecommunications, etc...)
  • A review of the Category:Telecommunications lists 4 categories that use the word 'communications', and approximately 23 that refer to 'telecommunications'. In keeping with Wikipedia's guidelines on article titles, "......Consistency – Titles follow the same pattern as those of similar articles....."
  • Further, while the definition of 'Communication' in general encompasses all types, in Wikipedia's article it essentially discusses only social concepts, and barely even mentions the word 'technology'.

In summary, this article, Optical telecommunication, includes and is meant to include multiple electrical forms of optical telecommunication, and the various definitions and etymology of 'telecommunication' support non-electrical forms of telecommunications. Best: HarryZilber (talk) 07:04, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

The Webster definition supports your argument, but the American Heritage one directly contradicts it. The issue is not the "as by", it is the definition itself, which is explicitly limited solely to communication by means of electronic impulses.
The etymology of the word is suggestive, but not definitive. It's not uncommon for words to have a meaning that differs from what the etymology would imply. It is noteworthy, though, that the word originated in 1932, coined presumably to provide a term for the new electronic means of communication then available.
Let's stick to what reliable sources say. Citations to Wikipedia and Wiktionary are not as reliable, and if they disagree with the reliable sources we can fix them.
Your complaint that I mention only the archaic forms seems to miss the point. My argument is that this article covers both archaic and modern forms of optical communication. Some of the types of communication discussed are "telecommunication", but some are not. The coverage of this article is, therefore, broader than the term "telecommunication". All telecommunication is communication, therefore the broader term that covers all the topics of this article is the term that should be used.
Your review of Category:telecommunications is similarly irrelevant. For some topics, the broader term is needed, or else is conventional. Note that besides advocating consistency, the guideline on article titles also and more prominently advocates use of the most common name for things. In some cases, "communication" is going to be the more common name than "telecommunication".--Srleffler (talk) 00:54, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately Srleffler, where you posit "Some of the types of communication discussed [in this article] are "telecommunication", but some are not." we part ways. A logical view of one of the word's definitions and its common etymology (for 'telecommunication') results in all of the sections of this article being forms of 'far-communication' or 'distant communication'. The presence of an updated definition referring to "by electronic transmissions" doesn't invalidate a definition of non-electromagnetic telecommunication, just as the definition of an 'aircraft pilot' also doesn't invalidate the definition of 'ship's pilot'. As well, since telecommunication obviously existed in the form of non-electronic telephone and telegraph service in the 19th century, long before the radios and TVs of 1932, we can not claim that the subject's scope applies only to electronic telecommunications.
By the way, should the adjudicator for this move process decide to leave the article's name the way it currently is, I have no problem assisting with adjustments to the links and templates. Best: HarryZilber (talk) 22:53, 11 February 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── We're talking about the definition of a word here. Logic and etymology are mostly irrelevant. The dictionaries mostly disagree with you. From the website you used above, I find the following dictionary definitions of "telecommunication":

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
The science and technology of communication at a distance by electronic transmission of impulses...
Collins English Dictionary
the telegraphic or telephonic communication of audio, video, or digital information over a distance by means of radio waves, optical signals, etc, or along a transmission line
the branch of electrical engineering concerned with the technology of electronic communication at a distance
Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, 11th Edition
communication at a distance (as by telephone)
The science and technology of communication at a distance by electronic transmission of impulses... (Citing American Heritage Dictionary, which is listed above)
The science and technology of the communication of messages over a distance, especially using electric, electronic or electromagnetic impulses. [1932]
Compact Oxford English Dictionary
communication over a distance by cable, telegraph, telephone, or broadcasting
Webster's New World College Dictionary, 4th Ed.
communicating with the use of an electronic device
The Wordsmyth English Dictionary-Thesaurus
the science, technology, or process of communicating over great distances, as by television, telephone, or radio
the transmission of information, as words, sounds, or images, usually over great distances, in the form of electromagnetic signals

These are the first ten definitions on the list; the rest just copy these. One of the ten is a duplicate. Excluding the duplicate and Wiktionary, there are eight definitions, six of which explicitly limit the definition to communication by technological means. The remaining two define it as communication at a distance "as by" telephone, etc. Note, though, that one of those two limits it to communication over great distances, which would exclude many of the older forms of communication covered in this article.

None of the sources provides strong support for your position. Even the Merriam-Webster one can be read as implying that communication at a distance that is not somehow similar to communication by telephone (like smoke signals) should not be considered to be "telecommunication". The article should not have been moved based on your idiosyncratic, uncommon use of the term. It needs to be moved back.--Srleffler (talk) 02:33, 12 February 2013 (UTC) PS. I have adjusted the Wiktionary definition to bring it into accord with the majority of the available sources.--Srleffler (talk) 02:35, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

This is an interesting match and I commend you on your research. So you have tradition and the majority of definitions in your favour while my position has the advantage of logic and etymology. As well, since you've characterized my conduct as idiosynctratic I'll counter with yours being sheepish ;-) And where you say that the article should not have been moved in the first place, well, it did because no other person seemed to support your viewpoint, and you only objected a few weeks after the fact.
It looks like we're going around in circles on this so l'm going to take a time out and let others chime in and then we'll see what the adjudicator decides. Best: HarryZilber (talk) 06:00, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
I haven't characterized your conduct as idiosyncratic, only your use of the term "telecommunications". Your conduct has been above reproach, including the original move, which was done according to due process.
I too am eager to see what others have to say.--Srleffler (talk) 06:25, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment: The notion that 'telecommunication' really requires electronic impulses (excluding optics and photonics and possibly even excluding modulation since that uses frequencies and waveforms rather than 'impulses') seems obviously incorrect. I think the modern definition of 'telecommunication' would simply be any communication that involves a significant distance (other than postal services or other means involving physical relocation of objects) or involves the use of some communication device or network. That seems roughly consistent with Collins, Merriam-Webster, and Wordsmyth above. However, I don't have a strong opinion about the title for this article. Strictly speaking, I suppose sign language (or observing someone's facial expressions or reading what a teacher writes on a whiteboard) is optical communication, but would not ordinarily be called 'telecommunication'. —BarrelProof (talk) 19:56, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Photos on Optical telecommunication page[edit]

I note the concerns you expressed regarding the side by side photos at Optical_communication:

   Please limit the number of photos in this article as 
       too many create a cluttered appearance; as well 
       side-by-side images create pinched text on low-aspect ratio displays. 
   There are already two photos of naval signalers.

The two photos of naval signalers lack diversity not only in the user and application, but in the method employed. I would like the article to include a photo of a naval signal lamp. Naval signal lamps have been used for over 140 years, from the 1860s to the present day. There are many naval signal lamp photos from the last ten years here: . I could simply replace the first (b & w ) naval signaler flag photo with the color US naval shutter-lamp picture that you removed. I think this addresses the issues you raise - Would this be acceptable? If you have any issues with the specific photo, I could select another from the wikimedia page I cite above. Macchess (talk) 07:29, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

Hi Macchess, thank you for your comments above. I have no problem with you replacing the B&W image at top with the shutter lamp image. However if we do *only* that then we will end up with four U.S. images (the Mance heliograph is a USGS photo) of which three are U.S. military images. In generic articles such as this one, Wikipedia needs to have international representation in its articles, including its article images. For better balance I suggest that at the same time (when you place the signal lamp photo at the top) that you also move the German B&W image from the top and use it to replace the color photo in the Semaphore signal flags section. That will result in three U.S. photos, one French and one German.
I'll copy this discussion to the article's Talk page for any comments by others, and if after a day or two there's no objection then you can go ahead with it. Best: HarryZilber (talk) 19:46, 15 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the current images are mainly military, U.S., naval, or all of the above, with two flag photos. Two are also lead photo in the detailed article on their topic - a bit duplicative.
Here's my latest proposal: swap in the three photos below (3 substitutions) for the heliograph and two flag photos. [ Sorry about the vertical format, but otherwise I get a checkerboard background for the GIF ] Here's my reason for each substitution:
  1. Heliograph: Use a more modern (1940 vs. 1910) non-US photo that does not duplicate the one in the main Heliograph article. The linked photo is also much more detailed, has annotation rectangles, and is famous ( WWII Australian recruiting poster, cover art for British magazine).
  2. Flag Semaphore: Use a color, animated, non-military, ambiguous nationality photo for diversity and convey flag signalling far more richly.
  3. Naval Signal Lamp : Replace the first b/w 1930 flag signal photos with this modern naval signal lamp photo (Yes, U.S. military, but will be one of only two, different services). I looked at the non-US naval signal lamp choices on Wikimedia (bw WWII Indian, color modern Australian, color modern Chilean), but this photo excels in showing the mechanism details, and the fraction of the photo devoted to the device it is intended to illustrate. Macchess (talk) 07:33, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
I like all three of these images better than the ones they would replace.--Srleffler (talk) 23:23, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. After two days on the talk page with only assenting comments, I have gone ahead and swapped in the images. Macchess (talk) 07:08, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

Only a few days wait? ;-) Actually I got tied up with the Russian meteor explosion article plus some some cranky electronics at home that took a bit of trouble shooting. The new heliograph and signal lamp photos are fine, but the boy scout GIF file is, i.m.h.o., too distracting (and I was a boy scout so I'm not an anti-BS'er). Additionally the size mismatch does not blend well with the other photos, so I'll go ahead and make it somewhat larger. However the German semaphore image is of far greater historical value and much easier on the eyes as well, and I believe the article will benefit if we return to that one.

A further suggestion would be to keep lengthening this article by adding new sections from the ledes of related forms of optical telecommunictions. Really not very hard to do since it's basically just copy and paste, and adding in some of the cites, as was done with the photophone section. Best: HarryZilber (talk) 20:29, 21 February 2013 (UTC)