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Difference between data communication and digital communication

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The terms Data Communication and Digital Communication share a common word, i.e. Communication between them. Communication that natively means to share something; makes these terms look similar, but they are quite different from each other. While one term relates more to what is being communicated other is closer to what is the type and process of sharing involved during communication. Let us explore more into it now.

Data communication and digital communication are related concepts that are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between the two:

Definition: Data communication is the process of transferring data from one point to another, while digital communication refers to the transfer of digital signals from one point to another.

Types of Signals: Data communication can involve both analog and digital signals, while digital communication involves only digital signals.

Transmission Medium: Data communication can occur over a variety of transmission media, including wired and wireless channels, while digital communication is typically associated with wired channels such as fiber optic cables and Ethernet.

Encoding: Data communication may involve various encoding techniques, such as analog-to-digital conversion and data compression, while digital communication involves encoding digital signals in a way that can be transmitted over a communication channel.

Error Correction: Digital communication typically includes error correction mechanisms, such as error detection and correction codes, while data communication may or may not include such mechanisms depending on the transmission medium and encoding techniques used.

data communication is a broader term that encompasses the transfer of any type of data between two points, while digital communication specifically refers to the transfer of digital signals over a communication channel. While the two terms are related, it is important to distinguish between them based on the specific context in which they are used.

Data Communication – Data Communication refers to the sharing or transfer of collection of facts, figures, etc. between devices capable of such exchanges using some of the other communication mediums. Whenever we communicate we simply share facts, ideas, etc. in mutually agreed-upon language and speed with the maximum accuracy possible. The same is the case in data communication, here the effectiveness of Data Communication is determined by correctness in delivery, the accuracy of transfer, timeliness, and lesser variation in packet arrival times. 

Data Communication has five basic components that are as follows: 

  1. Message: It is the data or the information that is to be exchanged between two points. Often in the real world, we share messages in the form of texts, numbers, pictures, audio, and videos.
  2. Sender: It is the node (device) that is intended to send the information being transferred or communicated. It has mechanisms of its own that make information encoded in a format that is feasible and secure to transfer on the transmission medium accurately and timely. 
  3. Receiver: The device that holds the responsibility of receiving the encoded information and decoding it into a certain format accurately and sending the feedback is the receiver.
  4. Transmission Medium: It is a path such as a cable that serves as traveling media on which the message is transferred from the sender to the receiver end.  
  5. Protocol: The protocol is the rules that are agreed upon between sender and receiver which govern the entire exchange process. These protocols make communication possible between two devices without them may be connected but won’t be communicating.

Digital Communication: It involves the physical transfer of data and information through a suitable communication channel. This exchange of information in the form of discrete messages can take place Point to Point or Point to Multipoint. Conventionally analog signals have been used to establish a connection and start communication over large distances but this made the signals suffer many losses such as distortion, interference, and even security breaches. These problems were overcome by the usage of digital signals over analog ones. Analog signals are digitized using different techniques. Communication using these digital signals makes it more accurate and less vulnerable to losses or breaches.

Digital Communication has the following basic components –

Source: Any point of data origin that can offer a piece of information that may be analog or digital can consider a source.

Input Transducer: The transducer at the input end performs the task of converting a physical input from point of source into an electrical signal. It is also equipped with an analog to a digital converter where the analog signal needs to be digitized for further transfer or exchange. This digital signal is nothing but a sequence of binary numbers, i.e. 0s and 1s.

Source Encoder: At the source encoder, the compression of the digitized signal data is done to minimize the number of bits while maintaining the correctness of the data. For the compression removal of redundancy is an important step. In this way, the effective utilization of the bandwidth is ensured.

Channel Encoder: The compressed data from the source code is encoded for error correction using a channel encoder. To prevent the alteration of the data signal during transmission because of noise in the channel, the channel encoder adds a few redundant bits to the data being transmitted called the error-correcting bits.

Digital Modulator: The transmitting channel modulates the signal to be transmitted and also the signal can be converted from digital format to analog hence making it ready to travel along with the medium.

Channel: Channel is a transmission medium through which the signal transmission takes place.

Digital Demodulator: On the receiver side, the received signal is demodulated and also conversion from analog to digital takes place using a digital demodulator. Signal reconstruction takes place here.

Channel Decoder: Error corrections are done using redundancy bits after sequence detection by the channel decoder.

Source Decoder: By using sampling and quantization the final signal is again converted into digital format.

Output Transducer: Here the output signal is converted from the electrical form to the physical form.

Output Signal: Signal that is produced after the complete process as the output is the output signal.

Below is the difference between Data Communication and Digital Communication: 

Data Communication

Digital Communication

The exchange of information between a sender and receiver is termed Data Communication. It is mainly concerned with governing rules and the transfer of data through a suitable medium.  Digital Communication deals with the physical transfer of information over a medium and the various conversions and other processes involved such as encoding, decoding, compression, and error correction of signals. 
The transmission mode is digital or analog. The transmission mode is digital.
It has five basic components namely message, sender, receiver, transmission medium, agreed-upon, and protocols.  It has several components serving different functions such as Analog to Digital Conversion and vice-versa, removing redundancy bits, adding error-correcting bits, modulation, and demodulation. 
Signal type or information format is not a major concern here. The exchange is done on a common agreed-upon speed and type. Signal type is an important factor in each step of the entire process of digital communication.
It uses networking protocols. No networking protocols are involved.
The transfer takes place according to a governing set of rules. Rules are not the deciding authority for the transference of information. Successful and accurate exchange with high efficiency is an essential part of the process.


  • Digital watches
  • Image processing, 
  • Speech Processing
  • Channel coding 
  • Data Compression, and more.


  • Wireless networks: Sending or receiving data wirelessly from remote servers using a computer connected to Internet through a WiFi.
  • LAN (Local Area Network)
  • Modem, and more.
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Last Updated : 17 Mar, 2023
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