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Time Division Multiplexing works by the multiplexor collecting and storing the
incoming transmissions from all of the slow lines connected to it and allocating a
time slice on the fast link to each in turn. The messages are sent down the high
speed link one after the other. Each transmission when received can be separated
according to the time slice allocated.
Theoretically, the available speed of the fast link should at least be equal to
the total of all of the slow speeds coming into the multiplexor so that its maximum
capacity is not exceeded.
Two ways of implementing TDM are:

Synchronous TDM
Synchronous TDM works by the multiplexor giving exactly the same
amount of time to each device connected to it. This time slice is allocated
even if a device has nothing to transmit. This is wasteful in that there will be
many times when allocated time slots are not being used. Therefore, the use
of Synchronous TDM does not guarantee maximum line usage and efficiency.
Synchronous TDM is used in T1 and E1 connections.

Asynchronous TDM
Asynchronous TDM is a more flexible method of TDM. With
Asynchronous TDM the length of time allocated is not fixed for each device
but time is given to devices that have data to transmit. This version of TDM
works by tagging each frame with an identification number to note which
device it belongs to. This may require more processing by the multiplexor and
take longer, however, the time saved by efficient and effective bandwidth
utilization makes it worthwhile. Asynchronous TDM allows more devices than
there is physical bandwidth for. This type of TDM is used in Asynchronous
Transfer Mode (ATM) networks.


Frequency Division Multiplexing (FDM) works by transmitting all of the signals
along the same high speed link simultaneously with each signal set at a different
frequency. For FDM to work properly frequency overlap must be avoided. Therefore,

the link must have sufficient bandwidth to be able to carry the wide range of
frequencies required. The demultiplexor at the receiving end works by dividing the
signals by tuning into the appropriate frequency.
FDM operates in a similar way to radio broadcasting where a number of
different stations will broadcast simultaneously but on different frequencies.
Listeners can then "tune" their radio so that it captures the frequency or station
they want.
FDM gives a total bandwidth greater than the combined bandwidth of the
signals to be transmitted. In order to prevent signal overlap there are strips of
frequency that separate the signals. These are called guard bands.
Use of FDM
A common example of FDM use is Cable television (CATV). This can be
achieved with coaxial cable or fiber-optic cable. A multiplexor is used to combine
many channels to maximize the use of the available bandwidth and a demultiplexor
built into the television or set top box will separate the channel that the viewer
wants to watch.
Digital Connectivity
There may be instances when the use of analogue communication links does
not meet requirements. The alternative is to use a Digital Data Service (DDS). These
are digital point to point full duplex links that provide a permanent connection.
There are different types of DDS including T1 and T3. These are used in the
US and are a digital transmission technology that uses two wire pairs to transmit
and receive data. T1 links can carry voice, data and video traffic and allows for a
transfer rate of 1.544Mbps. Due to the expensive nature of T1 and T3, subscribers
could choose to use only a fraction. These fractions are available in 64kpbs
channels and this is known as Fractional T1.
In Europe the equivalent of the US T1 is E1. The data transfer rate of E1 is


Wave or Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) is used with fiber optic
cables. WDM is a technology that closely resembles frequency division multiplexing,
but is specifically used to combine lots of Optical Carrier signals into a single optical
The WDM technique relies on a laser that is designed to emit single colors of
light. Each of the signals that are to be transmitted is then attached to a laser that

will emit a different colored light beam. All these individual light beams are then
sent at the same time. At the receiving end, a device splits the combined colors
back into the original individual colors again.
Line Sharing
Multiplexing is a powerful technique for getting slow devices access to a fast
communications link, however, this only works for devices that can easily be
connected to the multiplexor, i.e. the devices have to be in the same location. What
can be done for devices that are in different locations?
The solution is to set up a multi-dropping system. This means that devices are
connected to the fast line along its length. The drawback with multi-dropping is that
more than one device may wish to use the line at the same time. This is a
contention issue, i.e. all of the devices and terminals are contending for the fast
link. There are two ways of overcoming this problem:

Polling: In this system all communication takes place under a monitoring

computer's control. This computer will poll or contact each terminal in turn at
regular intervals to find out if the device wants to transmit. If it does then
transmission can take place and if not the computer can continue polling.
Interrupts: In this system if a device wants to transmit it will send a control
message to the controlling computer to state that it is ready to send. This
control message interrupts the computer from its processing, alerting it to the
devices needs. The controlling computer will then, if appropriate, allow the
device to transmit.


In telecommunications, T-carrier is the generic designator for any of several
digitally multiplexed telecommunications carrier systems originally developed by
Bell Labs and used in North America and Japan. The basic unit of the T-carrier
system is the DS0, which has a transmission rate of 64 Kbit/s, and is commonly
used for one voice circuit.
The T-carrier system traditionally uses in-band signaling or bit robbing,
resulting in lower transmission rates than the E-carrier system. This resulted in
many US ISDN installations only having an effective data rate of 56 Kbit/s over a
nominal 64 Kbit/s channel. This depends on the framing format used, and almost all
systems are now capable of transmitting a "clear" 64 Kbit/s channel, despite the
failure of providers to sell such services.
Note 1: The designators for T-carrier in the North American digital hierarchy
correspond to the designators for the digital signal (DS) level hierarchy. See the
associated table below. Note 2: T-carrier systems were originally designed to

transmit digitized voice signals. Current applications also include digital data
transmission. Note 3: If an "F" precedes the "T", a fiber optic cable system is
indicated at the same rates. Note 4: The table below lists the designators and rates
for current T-Carrier systems. Note 5: The North American and Japanese hierarchies
are based on multiplexing 24 voice-frequency channels and multiples thereof,
whereas the European hierarchy is based on multiplexing 32 voice-frequency
channels and multiples thereof.

T-Carrier Systems North American Japanese


Level zero
(Channel data

64 kbit/s (DS0)

64 kbit/s

64 kbit/s

First level

1.544 Mbit/s
(DS1) (24 user
channels) (T1)

1.544 Mbit/s (24

user channels)

2.048 Mbit/s (32

user channels)

level, US.
hierarchy only)

3.152 Mbit/s
(DS1C) (48 Ch.)

Second level

6.312 Mbit/s
(DS2) (96 Ch.)

6.312 Mbit/s (96

Ch.), or 7.786
Mbit/s (120 Ch.)

8.448 Mbit/s
(128 Ch.) (E2)

Third level

44.736 Mbit/s
(DS3) (672 Ch.)

32.064 Mbit/s (480 34.368 Mbit/s

(512 Ch.) (E3)

Fourth level

274.176 Mbit/s
97.728 Mbit/s
(DS4) (4032 Ch.) (1440 Ch.)

139.268 Mbit/s
(2048 Ch.) (E4)

Fifth level

400.352 Mbit/s
(5760 Ch.)

565.148 Mbit/s
(8192 Ch.) (E5)

565.148 Mbit/s
(8192 Ch.)


The E carrier system has been created by the European Conference of Postal
and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) as a digital telecommunications
carrier scheme for carrying multiple links. The E-carrier system enables the
transmission of several (multiplexed) voice/data channels simultaneously on the
same transmission facility. Of the various levels of the E-carrier system, the E1 and
E3 levels are the only ones that are used.
E carrier beginnings

The life of the E carrier standards started back in the early 1960s when Bell
Laboratories, where the transistor was invented some years earlier, developed a
voice multiplexing system to enable better use to be made of the lines that were
required, and to provide improved performance of the analogue techniques that
were used.
The step of the process converted the signal into a digital format having a 64
kbps data stream. The next stage is to assemble twenty four of the data streams
into a framed data stream with an overall data rate of 1.544 Mbps. This structured
signal was called DS1, but it is almost universally referred to as T1.
In Europe, the basic scheme was taken by what was then the CCIT and
developed to fit the European requirements better. This resulted in the development
of the scheme known as E carrier - the E standing for Europe or European.
The E1 designation can be seen to refer to not only the system itself but also
raw data rate.
E carrier system basics
More specifically E1 has an overall bandwidth of 2048 kbps and provides 32
channels each supporting a data rate of 64 kbps. The lines are mainly used to
connect between the PABX (Private Automatic Branch eXchange), and the CO
(Central Office) or main exchange.
The E1 standard defines the physical characteristics of a transmission path,
and as such it corresponds to the physical layer (layer 1) in the OSI model.
Technologies such as ATM and others which form layer 2 are able to pass over E1
lines, making E1 one of the fundamental technologies used within
A similar standard to E1, which is known as T1 has similar characteristics, but
it is widely used in North America. Often equipment used for these technologies,
e.g. test equipment may be used for both, and the abbreviation E1/T1 may be seen.
E carrier link formats and data rates
Within the E carrier system there is a hierarchy of different levels of the
system. The overall E carrier system is designed so that the base level or E0 signal
rate is designed so that each higher level can multiplex a set of lower level signals.
The framed E1 link is able to carry 30 E0 data channels. In addition to this
there is a further signaling channel required for the operation of the system.
High level E carrier links carry 4 signals from the level below.
It will be seen that the data rates achieved are not the exact multiples of the
lower level links that might be expected. It is found that each level has a capacity

greater than would be expected from simply multiplying the lower level signal rate.
For example the E2 data rate is 8.448 Mbit/s and not 8.192 Mbit/s which equates to
the E1 rate multiplied by 4.
The reason for this is that less overhead and signaling data is required when
the higher rate E carrier links are used.





64 kbps


2.048 Mbps


8.448 Mbps


34.368 Mbps


139.264 Mbps


564.992 Mbps

E1 and also T1 are well established for telecommunications use. However
with new technologies such as ADSL, DSL, and the other IP based systems that are
now being widely deployed, these will spell the end of E1 and T1. Nevertheless they
have given good service over many years, and they will remain in use as a result of
this wide deployment for some years to come.