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Basic Elements of Communication:

Communication is the process of transferring data from one point to another. Three basic elements of any
communication system are

1. A sender (source) that creates and sends data

2. A medium that carries the data
3. A receiver (sink) that receives the data.

Data Transmission Mode

It is the direction of information or data flow from sender to receiver. The three modes of data
transmission are simplex, half-duplex and full-duplex.

1. Simplex: A simplex communication system can transmit data in one direction only. Devices
connected to such a circuit are either send-only (such as keyboard) or receive-only (such as
monitor). In this mode the direction of data flow is unidirectional.
Example: Communication through Keyboard, Monitor Printer etc.

2. Half-Duplex: A half-duplex communication system can transmit data in both directions but in only
one direction at a time. Hence it can alternately send and receive data.
Example: Walky talky

3. Full-Duplex: A full-duplex communication system can transmit data in both directions and
Example: Telephone Lines, Chat etc.

Data Transmission Media:

In a communication network variety of medias link the devices. Generally these are categorized into
two basic groups guided media (physical lines) and un-guided media (wireless media).

Guided Media:

The three principal guided medias are:

1. Twisted-pair Wire
2. Coaxial Cable
3. Optical Fiber

Twisted-pair Wire:

A twisted-pair wire consists of two bunches of thin copper wires, each bunch
enclosed separately in a plastic insulation, then twisted around each other. It is also
called unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cable. These are used commonly in local telephone
communications and short distance digital data transmission. UTP cables are inexpensive and easy to
install and use.

Coaxial Cable:
Coaxial cables consists of a central copper wire surrounded by a PVC insulation over
which there is a sleeve again by an outer shield of thick PVC material. Signal is transmitted by
inner copper wire, and is electrically shielded by the outer copper mesh sleeve. They are used
extensively in long distance telephone lines and as cable for cable TV.

Optical Fiber:

Optical fiber are hair-thin threads of glass or plastic used as data transmission medium like twisted-
pair wire or coaxial cable. However, unlike copper wire or coaxial cables they transmit light signals
instead of electric signals.

In Optical Fiber communication systems, in the sender side LED or laser diodes are used to convert
electric signals to light signals. Then light waves are transmitted over the optical fiber to receiver’s end.
The receiver side light to electric wave converter detects the light waves and converts them back to
electrical signals. It uses photoelectric diodes for this purpose. An amplifier then amplifies and sends
the electric signals to the receiver.

Un-Guided Media:

The commonly used un-guided medias are:

1. Microwave System
2. Communication Satellite
Microwave System:

This system use very high frequency radio signals to

transmit data through space (wireless communication).
However, at microwave frequency, the electromagnetic wave
can not bend or pass through obstacles. Hence transmitter and receiver of a microwave system
mounted on very high towers, should be in line-of-sight. Moreover signals become weaker after
traveling a certain distance and require power amplification. To overcome this problem, repeaters are
used at interval of about 25 to 30 kms in between transmitting and receiving stations.

Communication Satellite:

Communication satellite are microwave relay stations placed in outer

space. They are lunched by either rockets or space shuttles, and are
positioned precisely 36,000 kms above the equator with an orbit speed that
matches earth’s rotation speed exactly. By the time the signal transmitted from
the transmitting station reaches the satellite, it becomes weak. A transponder,
mounted on satellite amplifies the weak signal and transmits back to the
earth’s receiving station.

Mode of Data Transfer:

Data transfer along the communication media are take place in two ways:

1. Serial Transmission
2. Parallel Transmission
Serial Transmission:
In this type of data transmission only one bit is send at a time requiring only one data line.
Since information in the computer is usually stored and moved in parallel, the data to be sent must be
converted from parallel to serial.

Parallel Transmission:

In parallel transmission more than one bit of data can be sent at a time. Typically parallel
transfers are in a multiple of eight bits and require a data bus of eight or more lines.

Asynchronous Transmission:

In this mode, data is transmitted

character by character at irregular
intervals. This is, a sender sends a
character at any convenient time and
receiver accepts it. To enable a receiver to
recognize a character when it arrives, a
transmitter “frames” each character by putting a start bit before it and one or two stop bits after it.

Synchronous Transmission:

In synchronous transmission, a group of characters is blocked in same way as records on

magnetic tape. A header and trailer are then added to each block to convert it into a frame. The
header contains synchronization information used by the receiving device to set its clock in
synchronism with sender end clock. It also contain information to identify the sender and the receiver.


A computer network is a network of computers that are geographically distributed, but connected
in a manner to enable meaningful transmission and exchange of data among them. Sharing of
information, resources and processing load is the main objective of a computer network.

Network Types

Networks are classified into four types:

i) Local Area Network (LAN): A computer network inter-connecting computers and other
peripheral devices within a limited geographical area of a few kilometers.
ii) Metropolitan Area Network (MAN): Networks that share some of the characteristics of both
LANs and WANs are referred to as MAN. This network is limited for an only one metropolis.
iii) Wide Area Network (WAN): Computer network inter-connecting computers spread over a
large geographical area. It may also enable LANs to communicate with each other. This
type of network may be developed to operate nationwide or worldwide and the transmission
mediums used are normally public systems such as telephone lines, microwaves and
satellite links.
iv) Value Added Network (VAN): Enhanced data transmission services provided by doing
value addition to standard services of common carriers. It is a communication channel
leased from a telephone company to offer customers with modems access to network
services through a local or toll-free number.

The way in which the network’s nodes (computers or devices that need to communicate) are linked
together is called as network topology.

1) Star Topology: in this arrangement nodes are linked to each other through the host node and
can communicate only through it. The routing function is performed by the host node that
centrally controls communication between any two other nodes by establishing a logical path
between them.

i) Star topology has minimal line cost because only (n-1) lines are required for
connecting n nodes.
ii) Transmission delays between two nodes do not increase by adding new nodes
to network, because any two nodes are connected via two links only.
iii) If any node other than the host node fails, remaining nodes are unaffected.
The system crucially depends on host node. If it fails, entire network fails.

1) Tree Topology: This topology is also known as a hierarchical topology. In this topology a central
'root' node (the top level of the hierarchy) is connected to one or more other nodes that are one
level lower in the hierarchy (i.e., the second level) with a point-to-point link between
each of the second level nodes and the top level central 'root' node, while each of the
second level nodes will also have one or more other nodes that are one level lower in
the hierarchy (i.e., the third level) connected to it, also with a point-to-point link.

i) Point-to-point link for individual nodes.

ii) Supported several nodes.

iii) If the backbone line breaks, the entire network goes down.
iv) More difficult to configure and wire than other topologies.
1) Ring Topology: In this arrangement each node has two communicating subordinates (adjacent
nodes with which it can communicate directly), but there is no master node for controlling other
nodes. A node receives data from one of its two adjacent nodes.

i) Ring network works well where there is no central node for making routing
ii) It is more reliable than a star network because communication is not
dependent on a single central node. If a link between any two nodes fails, or if
one of the nodes fails, alternate routing is possible.

i) In a ring network, communication delay is directly proportional to number of

nodes in the network. Hence, addition of new nodes in a network increases communication
1) Mesh Topology: In this arrangement, a separate physical link for connecting each node to any
other node. So each node has a direct link, called point to point link.

i) It is very reliable because any link failure will affect only direct communication
between the nodes connected by that link.
ii) Each node of the network need not have individual routing capability.

i)It is the most expensive network from the point of view of link cost. If there are n
nodes in a network, n (n-1)/2 links are required.
1) Bus Topology: In this arrangement, all the nodes share a single transmission medium. It is also
known as multipoint network. It is appropriate for use in a local area network where a high-speed
communication channel is used and computers are confined to a small area.

i) It reduces the number of physical lines.

ii) Failure of a node does not affect communication among other
nodes in the network.
iii) Addition of new nodes to the network is easy.

i) All nodes in a network must have a good communication and

decision-making capability.
ii) If the shared communication line fails, entire network fails.