Primarily thought of as the path or data line that carries information between two computers (or communication devices). It can be a physical pathway, such as coaxial cable; in wireless communications, it can refer to a specific carrier frequency. It is also thought of as a high-speed pathway (for example, fiber-optic) between a mainframe (or other high-end computer) and the control units of peripheral devices. For example, a 10 channel computer can transmit 10 separate streams of data to and from the CPU simultaneously. Additionally, a channel refers to a virtual area where IRCusers communicate in real time. There are thousands of these channels located on the Internet.
A channel is also the term for an area on a Web site that contains information or content on a specific topic (mimicking the way television has sports channels and news channels, for example). It can be a ganglion of corporate alliances that form a network of multiple Web sites. Within the company, these sites are referred to as channels. For example, the women's network iVillage.com contains many channel Web sites. Finally, the term channel also describes the pathway through which a vendor communicates with and sells products to customers. These channels may include a direct sales force, distributors, resellers, retailers, telemarketers, catalogs, direct mail, e-mail, and the Web.