(m dem) (n.) Short for modulator-demodulator. A modem is a device or program that enables a computer to transmit data over, for example, telephone or cable lines. Computer information is storeddigitally, whereas information transmitted over telephone lines is transmitted in the form of analog waves. A modem converts between these two forms.
While the modem interfaces are standardized, a number of different protocols for formatting data to be transmitted over telephone lines exist. Some, like CCITTV.34, are official standards, while others have been developed by private companies. Most modems have built-in supportfor the more common protocols — at slow data transmission speeds at least, most modems can communicate with each other. At high transmission speeds, however, the protocols are less standardized.
Aside from the transmission protocols that they support, the following characteristics distinguish one modem from another:
To get the most out of a modem, you should have a communications software package,a program that simplifies the task of transferring data.
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