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• The purpose of the physical layer is to transport a raw bit stream from one
machine to another.
• Transmission media are grouped into guided media (copper wire, fiber
optics) and unguided media (radio and laser).

Magnetic media
The most common way to transport data is to write them on to magnetic tape or
floppy disk and physically transport the tape to the destination machine.
• Cost effective (cost per bit is less)….ie high bandwidth
• Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes
hurtling down the highway

Twisted pair
• Consists of two insulated copper wires twisted together in a helical from
just like a DNA molecule
• The purpose of twisting the wires is to reduce electrical interference from
similar pairs close by.
• Most common application is the telephone system
• Twisted pairs can run several kilometers without amplification, but for
longer distances repeaters are needed.
• Twisted pairs can be used for analog are digital transmission.
Twisted pair mainly has two standards.
• Category 3 twisted pairs consist of two insulated wires gently twisted
together. Four such pairs are typically grouped together in a plastic
• Category 5 twisted pairs are similar to category 3 pairs but with more
twists per cm and Teflon insulation
• Both category 3 and 5 have bandwidths between 16 and 100 MHz.
• Up coming standards i.e. categories 6 and 7 have a bandwidth of
250MHz and 600MHz respectively.
• The bandwidth depends on the thickness of the wire and distance
• Application-all telephones are connected to the telephone company office
by a twisted pair.

Co-axial cable
• A co-axial cable consists of stiff copper wire surrounded by insulating
A cylindrical conductor often as a mesh encases the insulator.
The outer conductor is covered in a protective plastic sheath
• Two kinds of co axial cables that are widely used are
50-ohm base band cable for digital transmission
75-ohm broadband cable for analog transmission
• It has better shielding and can span for longer distance at higher speeds.
• It has high bandwidth (1GHz) and excellent noise immunity.
• The bandwidth depends on the cable quality, length, signal to noise ratio
• Application – cable television and metro politan area networks.
Fibre optics
• An optical transmission system has 3 components – light source,
transmission medium and the detector
• A pulse of light indicates a 1 bit and absence of light indicates a 0 bit
• The transmission medium is an ultra thin fibre of glass.
• The detector generates an electrical pulse when light falls on it
• Optical transmission is based on the principal of total internal reflection –
for angles of incidence above a certain critical value the light is reflected

Structure of optical fiber:-

At the center is the glass core through which light propagates. A glass cladding
with a lower index of refraction than the core surrounds the core. A thin plastic
jacket is provided to protect the cladding.

Advantages of fiber over copper wire.

• Less weight
• Higher bandwidth
• Less attenuation (number of repeaters required is less)
• Minimum leakage of information

• Specialized engineers are required
• Fibre interface is very costly
• Fibers can be damaged easily when bent

Wireless transmission (UNGUIDED)

Electro magnetic spectra:-
• Electro magnetic waves propagate through free space.
• By having a suitable antenna EM waves can be broad cast and received
• Up to visible reason, EM waves can be used for transmitting information
by modulating amplitude, frequency are phase.
• Above that EM waves are harmful and hard to modulate
• The amount of information an EM wave can carry is related to its

Radio transmission
Some of the advantages of radio transmission are:
• Easy to generate
• Travel long distances
• Penetrate buildings easily
• Omni directional (Tx and Rx need not be aliened)
Dis advantages
• Frequency dependent –
Low frequency waves passes through obstacles but power falls off
Higher frequency waves travel in straight lines and bounces with
obstacles but the power loss is less.
• Interference-
Radio waves are subject to interference from motors and other electrical
Microwave transmission
Some of the advantages of Microwave transmission are:-
• Above 100MHz waves travel in straight line and all the energy is
concentrated into a small beam using parabolic antenna.
• By increasing the height of the antenna, distance between two repeaters
can be increased
• Microwave transmission is relatively inexpensive
• Do not pass through buildings well
• Frequency dependent
Major applications are long distance telephone communications, cellular
telephone etc

Infrared and millimeter waves

• These waves are widely used for short wave communication - remote
control, indoor wireless LAN.
• Relatively directional, cheap and easy to build
• Better security than radio system (since they do not penetrate through
Light wave transmission
LANs in two buildings are connected through lasers. Each buildings needs its
own laser diode and photo detector
Some of the advantages of Light wave transmission are: -Unidirectional, low
cost, easy to install, high bandwidth etc
• The main disadvantage is that they cannot penetrate through thick fog and
Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876

If a telephone owner wanted to talk to n other telephone owners, separate wires

had to be strung to all n houses.

Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) was designed to transmit human

voice in a more or less recognizable form.
Structure of the telephone system
• Each telephone is connected to the nearest end office (local central office)
by a pair of copper wires (distance 1-10 Km)
• Each end office has a number of out going lines to one are more near by
switching centers called toll offices.
• These lines are called toll-connecting trunks.
• If both the caller’s and callee’s end offices happened to have a toll
connecting trunks to the same office, the connection may be established
within the toll office.
• Two toll offices communicate with each other via high bandwidth in the
toll trunks.

Transmission media for telecommunication; -

• A local loop consists of twisted pairs.
• Between switching offices, co-axial cables, microwaves and especially
fiber optics are used widely.
• At first telephone system was analog with actual voice signal being
transmitted as an electrical voltage from source to destination.
• With the advent of digital electronics digital signaling has became
possible where only two voltages are allowed (eg. -5 volts and +5 volts)
Advantages of digital transmission.
• A digital regenerator can be inserted to restore the signal to its original
• A digital signal can pass through a number of regenerators with no loss in
signal and thus travel long distances.
• Higher data rates are possible even with data, music, images, voice etc
• Digital transmission is much cheaper compared to analog transmission
• Maintenance of digital system is easier than analog one
Telephone system consists of three major components,
1. Local loop
2. Trunks
3. Switching offices

Local loop
When a computer wishes to send a digital data over a dial-up line,
• the data must be first converted to analog form by modem for
transmission over the local loop,
• then converted to digital form for transmission over the long haul trunks,
• then back to analog over the local loop at the receiving end,
• and finally back to digital by another modem for storage in the
destination computer.
With leased lines it is possible to go digital from start to finish, but are more

Transmission impairments:
• Attenuation- is the loss of energy as the signal propagates outward.
Signal falls off logarithmically with the distance (loss in decibel per
kilometer). If attenuation is too much, the receiver may not be able to
the signals.
• Delay distortion- different Fourier components travel at different speed.
• Noise-unwanted energy from sources other than the transmitter.
• Thermal noise- due to random motion of the electrons.
• Cross talk- due to inductive coupling between two wires that are close to
each other
• Impulse noise-due to spikes in power line.
Modems (modulator and demodulator):-
• It is a device that accepts a serial stream of bits as input and produces
carrier modulated by one of the methods (amplitude or frequency or
phase modulation)
• The modem is inserted between the computer (digital) and the
telephone (analog) system.
• All modern modems allow traffic in both directions at the same time.
• A connection that allows traffic in both directions simultaneously is
called full duplex.
• A connection that allows traffic either way, but only one way at a time
is called half duplex.
• A connection that allows traffic only one way is called simplex.

Fiber in the local loop

• For advanced services such as video on demand, the 3kHz channel
currently used will not support.
• Solution is running a fiber from the end office into everyone’s house
called FTTH (Fiber To The Home) but it is simply too expensive.
• An alternative solution that is much cheaper is FTTC (Fiber To The
Curb). In this model, the telephone company runs an optical fiber from
each end office into each neighborhood (the curb).
• The fiber is terminated in a junction box where all the local loops
enter. Since the local loops are now much shorter (100meters instead
of 3km), they can be run at higher speeds.
Trunks and multiplexing:
Telephone companies have developed schemes for multiplexing many
conversations over a single physical trunk.
Two categories in multiplexing schemes
• FDM (Frequency Division Multiplexing)
• TDM (Time Division Multiplexing)

In FDM frequency spectrum is divided among the logical channels, with each
user having exclusive possession of some frequency band
• 4000 Hz is allocated to each channel
• Filters limit the usable bandwidth to 3000Hz +2 guard bands of 500Hz
• First voice channels are raised in frequency and then combined.

WDM (Wavelength Division Multiplexing):

• It is a variation in FDM for fiber optic channels.
• Here four fibers come together at an optical combiner, each with its
energy present at a different wavelength.
• All fibers are combined into a single fiber at one end and split at the other
• Since the bandwidth of the single fiber band is about 25000GHz, there is
great potential for multiplexing many channels together.

TDM (Time Division Multiplexing):

• User take terms (in round robin), each one periodically getting the entire
bandwidth for a little burst of time.
• TDM can be handled entirely by digital electronics and can only be used
for digital data.
• Since local loops produce analog signals, a conversion is needed from
analog to digital at end offices.
• All the analog signals are digitized at end office and combined to a single
digital trunk with the help of codec (coder-decoder).
• For a 4 KHz telephone channel bandwidth Codec makes 8000 samples
per second on the basis of Nyquist theorem (fs>=2fm).
• This technique is called PCM (Pulse Code Modulation)
• Other techniques used are differential pulse code modulation and delta

Switching techniques:
• Circuit switching
• Message switching
• Packet switching
• Hybrid switching

Circuit switching: -
• When the computer places a telephone call the switching equipment
within the telephone system seeks out a physical copper path (copper) all
the way from sender to receiver. This technique is called circuit
• Once the call has been set up, a dedicated path between both ends exists
until call is finished.
• There is a need to setup an end-to-end path before data can be sent
• Elapsed time (end of dialing and start of ringing) can easily be 10 sec
• Propagation delay 5msec /1000km
• No congestion (path already established)
Message switching
• No physical path is established in advance
• When a sender has a block of data to be sent, data is first stored in
switching office and then forwarded later one hop at a time.
• Each block is received, checked for errors and then transmitted (store and
• No upper limit on block size
• Router should have large disks to buffer long blocks
• Long blocks may tie up the line for long time.

Packet switching
• Tight Upper limit on block size
• Blocks stored in routers main memory (not on disks)
• No user can monopolize any transmission line for a long time and hence
best suited for handling interactive traffic
• First packet of a multi packet message can be forwarded before second
one has completely arrived, reducing delay and increasing throughput.

Hybrid switching
• As computer and communication technology move closer together,
variants and hybrid forms of circuit switching and packet switching
become possible.
• With the existing telephone system call connection time was too long.
• Direct approach is to build a new telephone system where calls are put
through in milliseconds
• Such a system is called Fast connect circuit switching (variation of CS)
in which each line typed at the terminal causes the microprocessor inside
the terminal to dial the computer, send the line, and hang-up.

• Time division switching (variation of PS)- Each IMP (Interface Message

Processors) scans its input lines in strict rotation.
• Each packet is immediately retransmitted on the correct output line, as
soon as the header is read.
• By using fixed size packets and rigid time synchronization, no buffer
space is needed.
• The chief virtue of time division switching is that it offers high
performance (>100Mbps throughput) at low cost.
Comparison of circuit switching and packet switching
Circuit switching Packet switching
CS-requires circuit to be setup end PS does not require any advance
to end before communication setup

CS- since the bandwidth is reserved PS- since there is no path reserved
packets follow a single path and packets can follow any path and
arrive in order may arrive out of order

CS- since bandwidth is reserved, PS- since bandwidth is not reserved,

when a packet arrives it can be sent packets may have to wait for their
immediately turn.

CS- when there is no traffic PS- no wastage of bandwidth

bandwidth is wasted

CS- bits just flow through the wire PS- store and forward

CS- completely transparent—users PS- carrier determines the basic

can select the bit rate and format parameters

CS- Charge is based on distance and PS- Charge is based on number of

time only bytes carried and connect time