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Automatic protection

— OmniBER playing a more active role
In the world today our networks Automatic protection
run under the ground and roads switching (APS)
are often dug up, buildings are
constructed, earthquakes occur. Most modern networks have
Whenever the ground is working or service channels and
disturbed, cables can be protection channels. Networks
damaged. Faulty network can be configured in either linear
equipment and severe signal or ring topologies [Figure 1].
degradation can also cause
Traffic signals usually travel on
Service providers, whose income the service channels. However,
is based on fault-free service, are sometimes faults can occur. This
now using service reliability as is usually due to either a signal
a differentiator between fail (SF), where there has been a
themselves and the competition. catastrophic failure of the signal
This is transferred into pressure path, or a signal degrade (SD),
on the network equipment where the signal has degraded
manufacturer to produce ever beyond prescribed limits. When
more reliable components. faults occur, the traffic signal
Rigorous testing of equipment to moves over to the protection
ensure fault free protection channel [Figure 2].
switching in a real network
environment is therefore

Figure 1
Automatic protection switch (APS)

Networks can either be uni- Figure 2
Linear network with
directional or bi-directional. service and protection
During fault free operation in
either uni-directional or bi-
directional linear networks, the
traffic signal will travel along the
service channels.

If there is any kind of signal

failure or signal degradation, uni-
directional or bi-directional
networks behave slightly

• Uni-directional networks
The traffic signal from the
faulty service channel will move
onto its associated protection
channel, while the traffic signal
on the associated backward
reporting channel will continue
to travel on those ‘fault free’
service channels.

• Bi-directional networks
Both the forward and
backward reporting channels
are moved over to the
protection channel.

Initiating protection switching

– K1/K2 bytes
Figure 3
How protection switching
Automatic protection switching is is implemented in SDH
initiated by network elements
when there is either a signal
failure or the error rate exceeds
specified limits (determined by
the operator), known as signal
degrade. The network elements
communicate using the K1/K2
bytes in the overhead to divert
the traffic signal [Figure 3].

The layout and operation of the
K1/K2 bytes vary for linear and
ring networks. And the values of
the K1/K2 bytes are determined
by Telcordia GR-253 and ITU-T
recommendations G.783 for linear
networks and G.841 for ring
networks [Tables 1 and 2].

Protection switching protocol

- Linear networks

K1 byte Condition Tables 1 and 2

Bits 1-4
1111 Lockout of protection
1110 Forced switch Protection switching protocol
1101 Signal fail high priority - Ring networks
1100 Signal fail low priority
1011 Signal degrade high priority K1 byte Condition
1010 Signal degrade low priority
1001 Unused Bits 1-4
1000 Manual switch 1111 Lockout of protection (span) or
0111 Unused signal
0110 Wait-to-restore 1110 Forced switch (span)
0101 Unused 1101 Forced switch (ring)
0100 Exercise 1100 Signal fail (span)
0011 Unused 1011 Signal fail (ring)
0010 Reverse request 1010 Signal degrade (protection)
0001 Do not revert 1001 Signal degrade (span)
0000 No request 1000 Signal degrade (ring)
Bits 5-8 Selects channel used by 0111 Manual switch (span)
APS messages 0110 Manual switch (ring)
0101 Wait-to-restore
K2 byte Condition 0100 Exercise (span)
0011 Exerise (ring)
Bits 1-4 Selects bridge channel used 0010 Reverse request (span)
Bits 5 Determines automatic protection 0001 Reverse request (ring)
switch architecture 0000 No request
Bits 6-8 000 Reserved for future use Bits 5-8 Desination node ID
001 Reserved for future use
010 Reserved for future use K2 byte Condition
011 Reserved for future use
100 Reserved for future use Bits 1-4 Source node ID
101 Reserved for future use Bits 5 Path code:
110 MS-RDI 0 = short path
111 MS-AIS 1 = long path
Bits 6-8 000 Idle
001 Bridged
010 Bridged and switched
011 Reserved for future use
100 Reserved for future use
101 Reserved for future use
110 MS-RDI
111 MS-AIS

Using the Agilent OmniBER to The OmniBER now also provides Again uni-directional and bi-
test automatic protection Active APS testing. An example directional networks behave
switching set-up uses two OmniBERs to slightly differently.
emulate the behaviour of a
The Agilent OmniBER network element [Figure 4]. The Uni-directional networks:
communications performance OmniBER now looks intelligently The response (step 3 of Figure 4)
analyzer can be used to test at the request it receives from is simply a confirmation that the
automation protection switching the network element and switch has been completed.
(APS). It has two modes, passive generates an appropriate
and active. response. This lets the network Bi-directional networks:
element know whether it can use The response (step 3 of Figure 4)
Passive APS allows you to test a particular channel or not and is both a confirmation and a
the responses of a network hence avoids the network element request to switch the backward
element to various K1/K2 APS going into oscillatory mode. It reporting channel.
messages sent by the OmniBER, also independently verifies the
or faults generated in the service network element algorithm. The network element is then in
channels. The OmniBER can be no doubt about which channel
used to register and display any can be used – avoiding going into
response from the network the undesirable oscillatory mode.
element. This allows you to check And it independently verifies the
whether the network element will algorithm.
respond appropriately to fault
conditions in a real-life situation
by performing automatic
protection switching correctly.

Figure 4
Testing automatic
protection switching


To meet the ever increasing By testing in this way, you’ll have

demands of testing today’s greater confidence that your
network element’s ability to equipment can withstand the
survive, the OmniBER now rigors of real network operation.
provides Active APS and can still You can also be confident that it
detect signal degrade, measure complies with Telcordia and
service disruption time, and ITU-T recommendations.
generate and display APS
messages. Active APS allows the
OmniBER to fully simulate the
role of a network element during
automatic protection switching. It
does this by generating the K1/K2
switching protocols and
responding intelligently to the
signals received from the network

Related Literature

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OmniBER product notes:

Protection-switching time
measurements: understanding the
OmniBER analyzer’s measurement
technique and the alternative test

Measuring service disruption times in

high-speed ATM networks

Physical layer jitter testing in an ATM


Verifying the policing functions in

the ATM network

ATM perfomance testing


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