Multiplexing is a technique by which different analog and digital streams of transmission can be simultaneously processed over a shared link. Multiplexing divides the high capacity medium into low capacity logical medium which is then shared by different streams.

Communication is possible over the air (radio frequency), using a physical media (cable) and light (optical fiber). All mediums are capable of multiplexing.

When more than one senders tries to send over single medium, a device called Multiplexer divides the physical channel and allocates one to each. On the other end of communication, a De-multiplexer receives data from a single medium and identifies each and send to different receivers.

Frequency Division Multiplexing

When the carrier is frequency, FDM is used. FDM is an analog technology. FDM divides the spectrum or carrier bandwidth in logical channels and allocates one user to each channel. Each user can use the channel frequency independently and has exclusive access of it. All channels are divided such a way that they do not overlap with each other. Channels are separated by guard bands. Guard band is a frequency which is not used by either channel.

[Image: Frequency Division Multiplexing]

Time Division Multiplexing

TDM is applied primarily on digital signals but can be applied on analog signals as well. In TDM the shared channel is divided among its user by means of time slot. Each user can transmit data within the provided time slot only. Digital signals are divided in frames, equivalent to time slot i.e. frame of an optimal size which can be transmitted in given time slot.

TDM works in synchronized mode. Both ends, i.e. Multiplexer and De-multiplexer are timely synchronized and both switch to next channel simultaneously.

[Image: Time Division Multiplexing]

When at one side channel A is transmitting its frame, on the other end De-multiplexer providing media to channel A. As soon as its channel A’s time slot expires this side switches to channel B. On the other end De-multiplexer behaves in a synchronized manner and provides media to channel B. Signals from different channels travels the path in interleaved manner.

Wavelength Division Multiplexing

Light has different wavelength (colors). In fiber optic mode, multiple optical carrier signals are multiplexed into on optical fiber by using different wavelengths. This is an analog multiplexing technique and is done conceptually in the same manner as FDM but uses light as signals.

[Image: Wavelength Division Multiplexing]

Further, on each wavelength Time division multiplexing can be incorporated to accommodate more data signals.

Code Division Multiplexing

Multiple data signals can be transmitted over a single frequency by using Code Division Multiplexing. FDM divides the frequency in smaller channels but CDM allows its users to full bandwidth and transmit signals all the time using a unique Code. CDM uses orthogonal codes to spread signals.

Each station is assigned with a unique code, called chip. Signals travels with these codes independently travelling inside the whole bandwidth. The receiver in this case, knows in advance chip code signal it has to receive signals.