In telecommunications and computer networks, a channel access method or multiple access method allows more than two terminals connected to the same transmission medium to transmit over it and to share its capacity. Examples of shared physical media are wireless networks, bus networks, ring networks and point-to-point links operating in half-duplex mode.
A channel access method is based on multiplexing, that allows several data streams or signals to share the same communication channel or transmission medium. In this context, multiplexing is provided by the physical layer.
A channel access method may also be a part of the multiple access protocol and control mechanism, also known as medium access control (MAC). Medium access control deals with issues such as addressing, assigning multiplex channels to different users and avoiding collisions. Media access control is a sub-layer in the data link layer of the OSI model and a component of the link layer of the TCP/IP model.
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