If we stick with the acoustic communication model, have you ever purchased tickets from someone behind a protective glass barrier?  If there is no speaker/microphone set up, this can be tough, as most of the acoustic energy gets reflected back, thus very little passes through.b2ap3_thumbnail_Blogpost-Image-8.jpg

Or have you ever been at one end of a large corrugated pipe, and shouted towards the other end?  A series of echoes bounce back at you, as some of the acoustic energy is reflected by the corrugations.  While the reverberation of acoustic energy can sometimes sound cool in a song, it can impede the transmission of information in an acoustic communication system, and is not conducive to high speed data transmission when it comes to connector transmission line structures.b2ap3_thumbnail_Blogpost-Image-9.jpg

In connectors, there are variations in the dielectric and conductive structures that guide the high-speed electromagnetic waves down the transmission lines.  Each of these discontinuities is represented electrically by variations in the characteristic impedance of the transmission lines.  This, in turn, causes some of the electromagnetic energy to be lost by either bouncing back or radiating out of the transmission line.  The amount of energy lost is tied to the frequency component of the electromagnetic energy and the magnitude of the discontinuity.  The higher the data rate, the higher the sensitivity to variations in characteristic impedance.

Stay tuned for Part 7 where we explore one of the reasons why this occurs.