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Transport Synchronization in SDH
1.

Synchronization in SDH Systems

For SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) digital communications networks, each node of the network must be synchronous to a national clock. Strict design rules must be followed to assure that all nodes remain synchronous in the face of possible failures of communications paths, see reference 1 [1]. A brief summary follows.

2.1. Primary Timing Path
Each national digital network must maintain a national master clock, accurate to one part in 1011. This clock is distributed through the digital communications network over designated primary distribution paths. Suppose the digital network consists of nodes and interconnecting paths as follows, where M is the national master clock and J, K, L are primary nodes.

M

J

K

L

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Timing signal from M is designed to travel only on designated paths and on no others, as indicated by the solid paths shown below.

1

"Synchronization and Multiplexing in a Digital Communications Network" by John W. Pan, Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol 60, May 1972.
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M

J

K

L

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D

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Note that for each node, the timing path traces back to the master clock M in one and only one path. Otherwise, conflicts and ambiguities arise.

2.2. Timing Path Protection
In addition to the designated primary timing path, network designers must also have a contingency timing plan in case any of the nodes or any of the transmission systems traversed by the primary path should fail. To this end, all nodes in the network is given a timing rank. Any potential timing path is rated according to the number of intermediate nodes traversed and the rank of these nodes. For example, if the timing path from M to J should fail, node J would switch to the secondary timing source from node K. At the same time, node C would switch its timing source from node J to node K. This is because, by using timing from K, node C would be one node closer to M than by using J.

M X J K L

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In another example, if the designated timing path from J to C should fail, node C could switch to another system from J to C that parallels the original, rather than switch to node K. This is because, in the initial ranking, node J is ranked higher than K.

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M

J X A B C

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2.

Timing Choices for Transport Systems

Now suppose that some of the digital transmission systems between nodes uses an optical fiber system that combines several E1 signals into a single optical path, such as the Loop O9330.
E1 O9330 E1

The system design can take on two choices. For the first choice, the optical transport system can be designed to be transparent to each individual signal entering and leaving the system. Thus the multiplex terminals of the O9330 will not be part of the timing path design. For the second choice, the system can be made part of the synchronous system design, with the two terminals treated as two more nodes in the network. The nodes of the O9330 will be synchronized to the master clock and all outgoing signals will be retimed by the terminals. The timing path design, especially for design of secondary backup paths, will then take these terminals into consideration. This paper will show that the first choice has many advantages over the second.

2.1. Impact of Extra Nodes on Primary Timing Path
If the multiplex terminals of all transport systems are not considered to be nodes of the synchronous network. Considerable additional complexity of the timing path design is avoided. In addition to a more complex timing path due to extra nodes, consider the following. A digital transport system is interposed between node J and node B. If the two terminals are to be synchronized to the system, the two terminals will also become nodes of the timing path design. Therefore node B will be more distant to the master clock if timing from node J is used. A shorter path would be through node K, which is not reasonable.

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J

K

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B

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D

2.2. Impact of Extra Nodes on Protection Timing Path
Next consider the following. A digital transport system is interposed between node K and node C. Normally, the timing path to node C is through node J. Now, if the timing from node J failed, unlike the previous example, the alternate timing path for node C would be through node D and node K, which adds to complexity. This is because the two terminals of the transport system X and Y, are now considered nodes and lengthens the path.

J
X Y

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3. Conclusion When the engineering of the primary timing path and the secondary backup timing path are considered, a simpler solution results when intermediate multiplex terminals of digital transport systems not be considered as part of the timing node system. This simplicity results not only in easier engineering and testing, but also greater reliability of the entire synchronous network.

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