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My textbook states that "Laser communication is much faster than microwave communication."

But, how can that be? Both are electromagnetic waves with different frequencies but, how can the speed be different?

Or Is the statement referring to any kind of processing speeds involved?

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  • $\begingroup$ Laser probably does not attenuate much and hence proces for both transmission and reception may alter the required time. $\endgroup$ Jan 18 '14 at 9:24
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I would guess that in this case the word faster means that more data per second can be transferred. This is because light has a much higher frequency than microwave so it can be modulated at a much higher frequency. Microwave frequencies are in the range 1 GHz to 100 GHz while light is around 600 THz, so light can in principle transfer 1,000 to 100,000 times as much data per second.

The time delay for a signal to travel is normally called the latency, and you'd expect this to be roughly comparable for light and microwave transmissions.

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Radio and laser signals travel at the exact same speed through a vacuum - the speed of light. Your textbook chose a poor word - faster - since it is so ambiguous. It should have said "at a higher data rate".

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