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An 8-beam free space optics laser link, rated for 1 Gbit/s. The receptor is the large lens in the middle, the transmitters the smaller ones. At the top right corner is a monocular for assisting the alignment of the two heads.

Free-space optical communication (FSO) is an optical communication technology that uses light propagating in free space to wirelessly transmit data for telecommunications or computer networking. "Free space" means air, outer space, vacuum, or something similar. This contrasts with using solids such as optical fiber cable.

The technology is useful where the physical connections are impractical due to high costs or other considerations.

History

A photophone receiver and headset, one half of Bell and Tainter's optical telecommunication system of 1880

Optical communications, in various forms, have been used for thousands of years. The Ancient Greeks used a coded alphabetic system of signalling with torches developed by Cleoxenus, Democleitus and Polybius.[1] In the modern era, semaphores and wireless solar telegraphs called heliographs were developed, using coded signals to communicate with their recipients.

In 1880, Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant optical communication technology that uses light propagating in free space to wirelessly transmit data for telecommunications or computer networking. "Free space" means air, outer space, vacuum, or something similar. This contrasts with using solids such as optical fiber cable.

The technology is useful where the physical connections are impractical due to high costs or other considerations.