spread spectrum

A wideband radio frequency technique developed by the military for use in reliable, secure, mission-critical communications systems. It is designed to trade off bandwidth efficiency for reliability, integrity, and security. In other words, more bandwidth is consumed than in the case of narrowband transmission, but the trade off produces a signal that is, in effect, louder and thus easier to detect, provided that the receiver knows the parameters of the spread-spectrum signal being broadcast. If a receiver is not tuned to the right frequency, a spread-spectrum signal looks like background noise. There are two main alternatives, Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) and Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS).