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While reading computer networking, I am confused between link and channel and seen people using this interchangeably (which often bugs me).

Language written in books and forums
A link refers to the most basic physical or logical connection between two devices. It's the pathway for data transmission.

Then what does channel mean? It includes the actual physical medium like copper wires, RF and etc.

This is so confusing to me. So I thought from a different perspective

Link is a concept that indicates whether two devices are connected or not. The channel identifies the physical medium being used.

For example, A can connect to B via ethernet, and A can connect to C via RF.

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2 Answers 2

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I don't think these terms have formal definitions. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Link_layer and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication_channel for closest that I know of that has a fairly precise accepted definition. Sometimes people words in an informal/loose fashion, and sometimes two words can apply to the same situation or concept.

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As D.W. has already mentioned, its just a matter of convention or practice. In the network community, typically, the term link is used to describe the presence or absence of a physical or logical connection between devices. On the other hand, the term channel is used in the context of actual data/signal propagation through physical media such as wire, air, fiber, etc. The term channel typically carries the burden of the physical properties of the underlying communication medium, while a link is just a higher-level abstraction where we deal with various higher-layer management tasks.

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  • $\begingroup$ Isn't that what I mean in the blockquote? $\endgroup$
    – tbhaxor
    Apr 6 at 13:56

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