Data Communications and Computer Networks

Data communications has an ancient history, as people have always had an interest in communicating with each other. Different methods have been used and associated with each method are various advantages and disadvantages. A major problem with communications is ensuring that the receiver gets the message sent by the transmitter. In every form of communication there are common elements: 1. transmitter (sender, source) 2. receiver (destination) 3. message to be communicated 4. medium (how message is carried) Examples of medium: Medium Smoke signals Tomtom drum Pony express Carrier pigeon Post Telegraph Telephone Computer Cable Problem (Noise) Fog, Darkness Thunder Bandits Hunter Strike, Loss Broken wires Electrical Electrical

Anything that interferes with the message is technically called Noise. Convergence of Computing and Communications Communication facilities have an ancient history, but we tend to think of the advent of the telegraph and later the telephone as the beginning of modern communications. Extensive telegraph and telephone networks were established all over the world, decades before the emergence of computers.

Comp 1001 – Networks


Computer Networks Definition A computer network is an interconnected collection of autonomous computers. Strowger invented the automatic exchange (switch) in 1891 and this system remained in use until the 1960s when crossbar switches were introduced. RS232 is the name of the standard that defines the interface (e. The concept of a start-stop code system was developed to tell a receiver that a character was being transmitted. applications). The connection between two exchanges is called a trunk and trunk switches in each exchange route calls.S. Here. a local area network LAN can be cheaply installed. printers and computer terminals. This idea is the basis of the RS232 serial interface. data. users are more immune from hardware/software failure. A start pulse indicated that a character was to be transmitted and a stop pulse that the character was finished. equipment (printers. disks) are available to all users of the network regardless of location. • Communications medium: Users have access to email and the Internet Comp 1001 – Networks 2 .The first public telephone exchange was opened in the U. This type of transmission is asynchronous. In the telegraph network text was transmitted using codes. • High reliability: By replicating files on different machines and having spare cpus. • Less cost: Small machines have about 1/10 the power of a mainframe but 1/1000 the cost. These were predecessors of the modern ASCII code. By using such machines with file server machine(s). beginning with Morse.S. Five were used to represent the character. In the 1970’s computer controlled switches were introduced and digital switching began. Characters are transmitted independently of each other as opposed to synchronous transmission where blocks of characters are transmitted and precise timing is critical. how many wires are used. The serial interface is the communications interface used between computers and devices such as modems. in 1878 and operators were used to connect subscribers. The goals of a computer network include: • Resource sharing: programs (O. Seven pulses were transmitted on the line. what each wire is used for and so on).g. The connection between a subscriber and the local exchange is called the local loop. It is easy to increase the capacity by adding new machines. voice signals are converted to digital signals.. which is frequently used in computers to represent text. and then Baudot codes.

from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps being very common speeds. much higher speeds are possible. Comp 1001 – Networks 3 . They can carry data at very high speeds e. The machines (users) using the service are called clients. LANs can carry data at varying speeds depending on the communications medium used. They are suitable for networking within a building or campus area. Local Area Networks (LANs) When the computers in a network are located close together (usually less than 1or 2 Kms). They also provide electronic mail or e-mail. the network is called a LAN. schools. However. if they are based on optical fibre.g. Client-Server Model of Computer Systems Networks often provide services on one or more machines for all users of the network. The users store files access software on the file server. Because of the short distances involved they are typically (though not necessarily) faster than WANs in that it is cheap to use high quality communications media such as coaxial cable and optical fibre. This is a decentralised computing system whereby users can avail of local processing on their own machines as well as the shared services of the network. They provide for remote database access. but use their own PCs for processing. which is the basis for airline reservations and home banking.Wide Area Networks (WANs) When the computers in a networks are separated by long distances (from a few Kms to global distances) the network is called a WAN. Several servers may be used so that if one crashes. LANs are used in many offices. WANs are widely used in banking. Mainframe-Terminal Model of Computer Systems This is the traditional centralised computing system. whereby a single central mainframe provides all the processing for users who are connected to it via computer terminals. while speeds of up to 1000 Mbps are possible. users can still access their data and the network services. The financial markets are also heavily dependent on wide area computer networks. A good example is a LAN with a file server. A computer terminal is simply a screen and keyboard although a PC may be used to act as a terminal via terminal emulation software. colleges and hospitals. Dedicated servers may also be used for email or for printing: mail servers and print servers. If they are based on the telephone network this speed may range from 56 Kbps to less than 10 Mbps. The machines providing the service are called servers.

then the network is left idle. The shape of a computer network can vary conceptually from a single straight line. Broadcast subnets: In this system a message is broadcast over the network and all machines have the possibility of receiving the message. circuits) and switching elements (computers).The terminals may be local (on same site) or remote and connected via a modem. Point to Point subnets: Here. There are two types of subnet design: 1. This is a rather inefficient use of network time. The user machines in a network are called hosts. WANs usually use point to point subnets Broadcast Sub-networks These are typically configured as either a bus or a ring network. A simultaneous transmission of messages causes a collision where the messages get corrupted and so are not received. The hosts are connected by a subnet which carries messages between hosts. It has the advantage that two stations can never transmit a message simultaneously. since if the computer. usually referred to as a bus. 2. In a static broadcast subnet each computer gets a chance to transmit and can only broadcast a message when it's turn comes around. They must be re-transmitted. when a computer wishes to transmit. Each machine has its own unique address and typically will only "listen" to messages that are sent to this address. The subnet is made up of transmission lines (trunks. This is analogous to the postal system where a letter is transferred from post-office to post-office. They can be further classified as Static or Dynamic. LANs usually use broadcast subnets. to a many sided polygon with each node connected to all the others. a message is transmitted from one computer to another computer and so until the destination computer is reached. it follows the following protocol: Comp 1001 – Networks 4 . has nothing to transmit. This system allows any station to transmit at any time the network is free of traffic. In this case. A major disadvantage is that all processing terminates in the event of a mainframe crash. A dynamic broadcast subnet makes more efficient use of the network. whose turn it is to transmit. Network Configuration. Response time varies according to the number of users logged on and so is not readily predictable. Transmission lines carry bits and the switching elements connect the transmission lines. channels.

transmit the message otherwise wait for a small amount of time and repeat from step 1. The complete network. With the ring configuration each packet of information is sent off around the ring on its own. Two machines could have carried out step 1 at same time. intercepting and absorbing any signal that reaches the end of the bus and prevents it from being reflected back. is mainly found in Wide Area Networks (WANs). Point to Point Networks The second type of subnet. The packets travel out to the ends of the line where they will encounter a device called a terminator. The same applies to a bus . The likelihood of collisions is directly related to the number of active users on the network i. thus causing a collision. Listen to see if the network is free (Carrier Sense) 2. The above protocol is referred to as CSMA/CD. Messages are broken into smaller units called packets for transmission on a network. If possible. the network traffic. In this configuration each station is connected directly to every other station on the network. In the event of a collision. Computer networks can be configured in a number of ways as shown below. found the network free and proceeded to transmit their messages. The ring and bus topology are used in broadcast subnets. If a collision is detected then wait for a random but small amount of time and repeat from step 1.1. Comp 1001 – Networks 5 . It serves the network as a refuse collector.e. Its biggest advantage is speed. the point to point subnet transmits directly to the relevant station. however it is not very practical because of the number of connections that would be required. it will send the message to a "switch " which re-transmits the message to the destination. which stands for Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detect. If the network is free. both computers will wait for random time periods so that it is unlikely that they will cause another collision. also referred to as the Plain Old Telephone System or POTS) Network Topologies. The best known example of this type of network is the telephone network (Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN. differs from the others. which is a point to point subnet. Check to see if the message is still on the network (Collision Detect). Multiple Access means that many users can access the network at any time. the point to point subnet. 3. If no direct route is available.

intersecting loop and star configurations are the same as those discussed in the loop. The telephone network is based on the tree topology.The loop is the next configuration design for a point to point network. Only when the intercepting computer has collected and reassembled the entire message is that message forwarded on to the next computer. Comp 1001 – Networks 6 . and any other that is transmitted. The principles for the tree. A terminalmainframe model has a star topology. Each packet is transmitted along the line until it encounters a computer. This process is continued station by computer until the entire message reaches its final destination. until it has accumulated the entire message. The computer at this point in the network then holds the packet. This is called store and forward.

Network Topology a) Ring b) Bus c) Complete d) Loop e) Tree f) Intersecting Loop g) Star Comp 1001 – Networks 7 .

They carry electrical signals. An optic fibre has a bandwidth of up to 108 MHz. hence the popularity of optic fibres. Data is transmitted as signals. A tp consists of two insulated copper wires (1mm diameter) twisted to reduce electrical interference. Transmission Media • Copper Wires o Twisted Pair (tp) o Coaxial Cable (coax) • Fibre Optic • Wireless o Microwave o Infrared o Radio Twisted Pairs (tp) They are used by telephones for the local loop (connection between your home phone and the local telephone exchange). The higher the bandwidth the more data that can be transmitted per second. for several years. Each medium has its own maximum. A coaxial cable might have a bandwidth of 10 to 100 MHz. This is measured in Hertz (Hz).5 to 6 Mbps. computers cannot yet utilise the full capacity of optic fibres i. Bandwidth The maximum range of frequencies that can be transmitted is the bandwidth of the medium. DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and in particular ADSL (Asymmetric DSL) lines are available to home users with speeds of 1. This determines the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted. For example ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) lines offer speeds from 64Kbps to over 1 Mbps and have been available to home users for Internet access. ISDN and ADSL both use digital Comp 1001 – Networks 8 . More recently (2003). The number of signals per second is the frequency of the signal. One cycle per second is 1 Hz.Data Transmission There is a maximum limit to the amount of data that can be transmitted using any transmission medium (Shannon’s Law). Capacity: dependent on the distances involved but can be up to several Mbps over a few Kms. One million cycles per second is 1 MHz.e. In fact. they cannot transmit at the speed which the fibre is capable of carrying.

g. However. Over short distances CAT-6 cable may be used but optic fibre is also often used as it can cover longer distances. the CAT-5 cable connects to a device know as a hub which is less than 100 metres from each PC. They are also classified into Category-5 (CAT-5) and Category-6 (CAT-6).transmission and so must use a digital line unlike the standard analog telephone line where a modem is used. The communications standard used in this case is called 10/100-Base-T. There may be a hub for each floor/laboratory in a building. It is more expensive than CAT-5 cable. Third Floor PCs to hub via CAT-5 Hub PCs Hub CAT-6 Backbone Hub Duct to carry cable First Floor Servers UPS Three floor Building with CAT-6 Cable Backbone connecting LANs on each floor Comp 1001 – Networks 9 . TPs may be shielded (stp ) or unshielded (utp ) with the shielded having extra insulation. it is the rate of twisting (number of twists per inch) that is the most important characteristic. Large organisations frequently have a so-called "backbone" network that interconnects separate LANs in different buildings/rooms as in the diagram below. This is the type of cable that is often used in building to connect PCs to a LAN. CAT-6 cable operates at 100/1000Mbps (Gigabit Ethernet) and is typically used to interconnect hubs. Usually. CAT-5 can carry 10 or 100 Mbps (10/100Mbps) over short distances e. You must install an ISDN card or an ADSL card into your PC to use an ISDN or ADSL line. up to 100 metres approx.

Satellite : operate in same fashion as microwaves where the satellite operates as a ‘Big microwave repeater in the sky’!! Satellite communication has a high bandwidth giving up 50 Mbps speeds and a given satellite may be able to have many "channels" at this speed. Optic Fibre Uses light to carry data and has a huge bandwidth. in the event of a mains electricity failure. Very thin glass fibres used. Relatively high speeds of 10 Mbps upwards are possible. it may be able to provide power for periods of several minutes to several hours and at least long enough for the system to be shut down in a controlled fashion so that files get saved and so on. Comp 1001 – Networks 10 . Depending on the UPS. A 100m tower can transmit data for distances over 100 km. There are two forms of coax: Thick Coaxial: operates over distances of up to 500m based on 10-Base-5 standard. It consists of a copper core surrounded by 3 outer layers of insulation. laser printer and Graphical User Interface (GUI) software. LANs for interconnecting hubs and also for linking telephone exchanges. Cheaper than digging a trench. To date capacity of 1000 Mbps over 1 km is feasible.g. Ethernet LANs can be based on tp. The original Ethernet standard was based on 10 Mbps coaxial cable. This will keep the system powered on. Wireless Line of Sight: Infrared and Microwave Physical cables have a major problem if you have to cross private or public property where it may be difficult or very expensive to get permission. in addition to the costs of laying the cable. Thin Coaxial: operates over distances of up to 200m based on 10-Base-3 standard. It has a high bandwidth and good noise immunity. It is used in WANs. Using line of sight transmitters avoids this problem.The UPS is an Uninterruptible Power Supply that usually consists of some form of battery backup power system. coax or optic fibre. Ethernet is the most popular LAN standard and was developed at Rank Xerox (who also developed the mouse. Frequently used in LANs but is being replaced by utp/stp in most LANs. Excellent noise immunity as it does not suffer from electrical interference and is therefore suitable for harsh environments such as factory floor. Capacity 10 to 100 Mbps for distances of up to 1 km. Microwaves can be used over long distances e. Coaxial (Coax) Cable Carry electrical signals.

if that traffic is destined for a machine on LAN C. So. This leads to more efficient usage of the network. The bridges ensure that only traffic addressed to a LAN in a given building will enter that building.Wireless Radio LANs or wireless (wi-fi) LANs are becoming common in offices. LANs and WANs continued As noted above it. all the traffic on one LAN is simply copied to the second LAN even though it may not addressed to a machine on the second LAN. It is also possible to connect LANs together using either repeaters or bridges. all traffic on LAN A in Building 1 is repeated on LAN B. universities. The site wide backbone would typically be a fibre optic connection. Commerce students use such laptops with wireless cards to connect to the college network. This can lead to increased message collision frequency. When two LANs are connected using a repeater. So. Another possible configuration is to connect LANs in different buildings to a site-wide or backbone LAN using bridges. for course work and email. restaurants and airports. A bridge on the other hand only passes traffic from one LAN to another LAN if the traffic is addressed to a machine on the second LAN. traffic from LAN B below will only be routed to LAN C via the bridge. In UCD. This means that the LANs in each building will not be swamped with network traffic that is intended for other buildings. I the figure below. This enables communication between all buildings. A wireless LAN enables users to connect to the Internet from a laptop computer with a wireless network card. LANs in the same building (or different buildings) may be connected by hubs. LAN A R LAN B B LAN C B LAN X R B LAN Y Building 4 Building 1 Site-wide Backbone Stations ( Mainframes or PCs or servers) B Bridge R Repeater Comp 1001 – Networks 11 . hotels.

000 bps and the cost is based on connection time.g. They are known as private enterprise-wide networks.Wide Area Networks The type of data communications facility used is a function of the nature of the application. Private data networks were set up using leased lines from the telephone authorities to connect a connect a number of switching nodes or multiplexers. One common technique is to use the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and a modem which enables you connect computers to the PSTN: Computer A PSTN Modem Modem Computer B The model above is the typical method that a home user employs to connect to the Internet. Such organisations would install their own switching system which can handle both voice and data communications. The earliest computer networks made use of the PSTN (telephone network) for data transmission between user equipment located at different locations as shown in an earlier diagram. The ISP server would have a high-speed connection to the Internet which is shared among the users. they are used by very large organisations such as banks. In the case of a number of computers to be connected which are separated by long distances then two possibilities for networking present themselves: the use of private data networks and the use of public data networks. ISDN lines allows speeds from 64 kbps to several Mbps. Comp 1001 – Networks 12 . the number of computers involved and the distance between them. Since it very expensive to set up such networks. Eircom in Ireland). where Computer A represents the user's computer and Computer B represents the Internet server of the user's ISP (Internet Service Provider e. The data rates using the PSTN are typically less than 56. Two computers in the same room can be simply linked with a point-to-point wire link: Computer A Computer B Interface If the computers are different locations (cities. Together these factors make the PSTN unattractive for large-scale data communications and led large organisations to develop private data networks. countries) then public carrier facilities may be used. Both e public and private networks are connected to the Internet.

terminals and computers in a building or a campus. A DSE (Data Switch Exchange) allows computers exchange data over the lines. The IMUX is an intelligent Multiplexer (see later) that allows a single high-speed line to be shared by a number of users at the same time. Enterprise-wide Network Site A PBX IMUX DSE Site B PBX Leased Lines IMUX DSE IMUX Phones Computers Data Switching DSE Exchange PBX Site C Private Network DSE PBX Private Branch Exchange IMUX Intelligent Multiplexer Comp 1001 – Networks 13 .A device known as a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) or a PABX (Private Automatic Branch Exchange) may be used to connect telephones. The exchange routes internal calls directly and is connected to the PSTN for external calls.

Its amplitude. FREQUENCY MODULATION 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 Comp 1001 – Networks 14 . It is approximately 10 orders of magnitude worse: the cost of bus ticket to town versus a moon landing is same order of magnitude. To transmit information. A modem is a device that accepts such a bit stream and converts it to an analog signal.Data Transmission: Analog and Digital Analog Transmission: Dominated the last 100 years and is here for a while yet. 0’s). Modems Phone lines deal with frequencies of 300 to 3000 Hz. a continuous signal (tone) is sent in the range 1000 to 2000 Hz. DC SIGNALS FROM TERMINAL OR COMPUTER MODEM MODEM DC SIGNALS TO A TERMINAL OR COMPUTER This diagram illustrates the carrier signal always present between two modems. Network designers made use of the existing telephone network which was aimed at voice transmission. This is actually very poor for computer networking. Using phone lines. frequency. Thus two computers can be connected using two modems and phone line. A computer outputs a serial stream of bits (1’s. using modulation. It also performs the inverse conversion. phase or a combination can be modulated . this carrier signal is modulated. 56 K bps is the maximum transmission speed with a relatively high error rate. For example 2 computers connected by a direct cable can achieve a data rate of up to 100 Mbps with very low error rate. One common form of modulation Frequency Modulation (FM). Using a modem.

In FM. The technique used is called Pulse Coded Modulation or PCM. Half Duplex (HDX): transmission is allowed in both directions but in only one direction at a time. Digital Transmission Digital transmission takes place in the form of pulses representing bits (1’s and 0’s).This is the most common form of modulation used for data transmission. Types of Transmission There are three types of transmission. It samples the analog signal 8000 times per second and encodes the signal digitally by representing each sample as a binary number. the carrier signal is modulated between two different frequencies (say 1200Hz and 2200Hz) without affecting the amplitude in accordance with the digital signal that it must send. Full Duplex (FDX): sender/receiver can transmit and receive from each other at the same time. In order to transmit in FDX. 2. 3. The local loop (from phone to exchange) is still analog. SIMPLEX HALF DUPLEX FULL DUPLEX Comp 1001 – Networks 15 . This is the type of communication used internally in computers. The high-speed trunks linking central phone exchanges use digital transmission. This must be converted at the exchange to digital. Simplex: information is transmitted in one direction only and the roles of transmitter and receiver are fixed. 1. A device called a Codec (coder/decoder) does this. Data communication systems that use the telephone network usually transmit in HDX. It has a lower error rate than analog transmission. The serial interface between the modem and computer is governed by the RS-232 standard (also known as the CCITT V24 standard). the user usually has private direct lines. This form is not used for conventional data transmission.

An early official standard was the EIA RS-232-C for data transfer over wires.000 bps line as shown in the figure below.000 bps line. Standards and Protocols Standards and protocols are required to govern the physical and logical connections between terminals. There are a number of types of multiplexing. This gives us efficient line usage and saves money. For example 4 users could each operate terminals at 10. The second multiplexer de-multiplexes the signal onto 4 separate lines for the computer. This is called multiplexing. They are vital for data communications and computer networking Typically standards fall into two groups: official standards (from national standards bodies) and de facto standards established by common usage.000 bps connected to mainframe over a single 40.Multiplexing With high bandwidth channels it is possible to share the channel so that a number of users can use the channel at the same time. The 4 lines from the terminals are connected to a multiplexer which is connected to another multiplexer by the 40. M U X High Speed Line M U X C o m p u t e r Terminals Multiplexing is also used for voice transmission where optic fibres and microwave cable can handle from 8000 to 16000 simultaneous conversations. (Electronic Industries Association Recommended Standard) Comp 1001 – Networks 16 . Two common ones are Time Division Multplexing (TDM) and Frequency Division Multiplexing (FDM). computers and other equipment.

A computer that provides for the interconnection of two different networks is called a gateway. an influential organisation. (The Digital corporation was taken over by Compaq which in turn has been taken over by Hewlett-Packard). Comp 1001 – Networks 17 . The two are often referred to as TCP/IP and the major protocols of the Internet. remote login (TELNET) and e-mail (SMTP). The International Standards Organisation (ISO) took an initiative to develop universal data communication standards to unite standards bodies. The ISO Open Systems Interconnection (OSI ) reference model was put forward as a framework to develop standards for data communication products. An open system is one that is prepared to communicate with any other open system by using agreed rules or protocols on how the communication should take place. manufacturers have developed their own standards to maintain their market position e.g.N. V-24 from the CCITT body which is a part of the U. In addition. Standards for LANs (local area networks) were proposed by the American Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The existence of different standards bodies regulating data communications is obviously a handicap for global standardisation. It used a transport protocol call TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) to govern transmission of data. Digital’s Decnet standards. computer and telecommunications manufacturers and users.g. These three protocols are still very important and widely used protocols Internetworking is the term used for the connection of two networks. It used a network protocol called IP (Internet Protocol) to handle the interconnection of WANs to LANs. The growth of internetworking between LANs and WANs and WANs and WANs led to what is now referred to as the Internet. A recommendation for standards called X-25 for access to and transmission methods for packet switched data networks (PSDNs) were proposed by the CCITT. It also provided protocols for file transfer (FTP).Another set of standards was the V series e. ARPANET: ARPANET was one of the first WANs and a forerunner of the Internet.