A transceiver is a combination transmitter/receiver in a single package. The term applies to wireless communications devices such as cellular telephones, cordless telephone sets, handheld two-way radios, and mobile two-way radios. Occasionally the term is used in reference to transmitter/receiver devices in cable or optical fiber systems.
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In a radio transceiver, the receiver is silenced while transmitting. An electronic switch allows the transmitter and receiver to be connected to the same antenna, and prevents the transmitter output from damaging the receiver. With a transceiver of this kind, it is impossible to receive signals while transmitting. This mode is called half duplex. Transmission and reception often, but not always, are done on the same frequency.
Some transceivers are designed to allow reception of signals during transmission periods. This mode is known as full duplex, and requires that the transmitter and receiver operate on substantially different frequencies so the transmitted signal does not interfere with reception. Cellular and cordless telephone sets use this mode. Satellite communications networks often employ full-duplex transceivers at the surface-based subscriber points. The transmitted signal (transceiver-to-satellite) is called the uplink, and the received signal (satellite-to-transceiver) is called the downlink.