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“DATA NETWORK” FOR JTOs PH-II – Data commn Concepts


Communication, whether between human beings or computer systems, involves the

transfer of information from a sender to receiver. Data communication refers to
exchanger of digital information between two digital devices. In this chapter, we
examine some of the basic concepts and terminology relating to data communication.
Data representation, serial/parallel data transmission and asynchronous/synchronous
data transmission concepts are discussed first. We then proceed to examine some
theoretical concepts of Fourier series, Nyquist’s and Shannon’s theorems and their
application in data transmission. Digital modulation techniques and baud rate are
introduced next. We close the chapter with a discussion on the distinction between
transmission and data communication. These terms are used interchangeably in the
literature on data communication and are the cause of much confusion and frustration.


A binary digit or bit has only two states, “0” and “1” and can represent only two
symbols, but even the simplest form of communication between computers requires a
much larger set of symbols, e.g.
• 52 capital and small letters,
• 10 numerals from 0 to 9,
• punctuation marks and other special symbols, and
• terminal control characters – Carriage Return (CR), Line Feed (LF).

Therefore, a group of bits is used as a code to represent a symbol. The code is usually
5 to 8 bits long. 5-bit code can have 25 = combinations and can, therefore, represent
32 symbols. Similarly, an 8-bit code can represent 28 = 256 symbols. A code set is
the set of these codes representing the symbols. There are several code sets, some are
used for specific applications while others are the proprietary code sets of computer
manufacturers. The following two code sets are very common:

1. ANSI’s 7-bit American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)

2. IBM’s 8-bit Extended Binary-Coded-Decimal Interchange Code (EBCDIC)

EBCDIC is vendor-specific and is used primarily in large IBM computers. ASCII

is the most common code set and is used worldwide.

ASCII – American Standard Code for information Interchange

ASCII is defined by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in ANSI X3.4.

The corresponding CCIT recommendation is T.50 (International Alphabet No. 5 or
IA5) and ISO specification is ISO 646. It is 7-bit code and all the possible 128 codes
have defined meanings (Table 1). The code set consists of the following symbols:
• 96 graphic symbols (columns 2 to 7), comprising 94 printable characters,
SPACE and DEL etc characters
• 32 control symbols (columns 0 and 1).

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Table 1 ASCII Code Set

Bit 7 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1
Numbers 6 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1
5 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1
4321 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

0000 0 NUL DLE SPACE 0 @ P P

0001 1 SOH DC1 ! 1 A Q a q
0010 2 STX DC2 ” 2 B R b r
0011 3 ETX DC3 # 3 C S c s
0100 4 EOT DC4 $ 4 D T d t
0101 5 ENQ NAK % 5 E U e u
0110 6 ACK SYN & 6 F V f v
0111 7 BEL ETB ’ 7 G W g w
1000 8 BS CAN ( 8 H X h x
1001 9 HT EM ) 9 I Y i y
1010 A LF SUB * : J Z j z
1011 B VT ESC + ; K [ k {
1100 C FF FS , < L \ l |
1101 D CR GS - = M ] m }
1110 E SO RS . > N ^ n ~
1111 F SI US / ? O – o DEL

The binary representation of a particular character can be easily determined from its
hexadecimal coordinates. For example, the coordinates of character “K” are (4,B)
and, therefore, its binary code is 100 1011.
The control symbols are codes reserved for special functions. Table 2 lists the control
symbols. Some important functions and the corresponding control symbols are:
• functions relating to basic operation of the terminal device, e.g., a printer or a
CR (Carriage Return)
LF (Line Feed)
• functions relating to error control
ACK (Acknowledgement)
NAK (Negative Acknowledgement)
• functions relating to blocking (grouping) of data characters
STX (Start of Text)
ETX (End of Text).
DC1, DC2, DC3 and DC4 are user definable. DCI and DC3 are generally used as X-
ON and X-OFF for switching the transmitter.

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Table 2 Control Symbols

ACK Acknowledgement FF Form Feed

BEL Bell FS File Separator
BS Backspace GS Group Separator
CAN Cancel HT Horizontal Tabulation
CR Carriage Return LF Line Feed
DC1 Device Control 1 NAK Negative Acknowledgement
DC2 Device Control 2 NUL Null
DC3 Device Control 3 RS Record Separator
DC4 Device Control 4 SI Shift-In
DEL Delete SO Shift-Out
DLE Data Line Escape SOH Start of Heading
EM End of Medium STX Start of Text
ENQ Enquiry SUB Substitute Character
EOT End of Transmission SYN Synchronous Idle
ESC Escape US Unit Separator
ETB End of Transmission Block VT Vertical Tabulation
ETX End of Text

ASCII is often used with an eighth bit called the parity bit. This bit is utilized for
detecting errors which occur during transmission. It is added in the most significant
bit (MBS) positions. We will examine the use of parity bits in detail in the chapter on
Error Control.


Represent the message “3P.bat” in ASCII code. The eighth bit may be kept as “0”


Bit Positions 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
3 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 1
P 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0
. 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0
b 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0
a 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1
t 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0

EBCDIC – Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code

It is an 8-bit code with 256 possible combinations; however, all combinations are not
used and have also not been defined. There is no parity bit for error checking in the
basic code set. The graphic symbol subset is approximately the same as ASCII. There
are several differences in the control characters. EBCDIC is not the same for all
devices. There may be variations even within different models of IBM equipment.. In

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EBCDIC, the bit numbering starts from the most significant bit (MSB) and is ASCII,
it starts from the least significant bit (LSB).

b0 b1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7


Other Code Sets

The following code sets, though not of much significance to the data processing
community today, were used one time or the other:

Baudot Teletype Code. Also called ITA2 (International Telegraph Alphabet Number
2), it is a 5-bit code and is used in electromechanical teletype machines. 32 codes are
possible using 5 bits but in this code there are 58 symbols. The same code is used for
two symbols using letter shift/figure shift keys which change the meaning of a code.
In telegraphy terminology, binary “1” is called Mark and binary “0” is called Space.

BCDIC – Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code. It is a six-bit code with 64



Byte is a group of bits which is considered as a single unit during processing. It is

usually eight bits long though is length may be different. A character code, e.g.,
1001011 of ASCII, is a byte having a defined meaning “K”, but it should be noted that
there may be bytes which are not elements of any standard code set.


There is always need to exchange data, commends and other control information
between a computer and its terminals or between two computer. This information, as
we saw in the previous section, is in the form of bits.
Data transmission refers to movement of the bits over some physical medium
connecting two or more digital devices. There are two options of transmitting the bits,
namely, Parallel transmission, or Serial transmission.

Parallel Transmission

In parallel transmission, all the bits of a byte are transmitted simultaneously on

separate wires as show in Fig. 1 and multiple circuits interconnecting the two devices
are, therefore, required. It is practical only if the two devices, e.g., a computer and its
associated printer are close to each other.

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0 0 0
1 1 1
2 0 0
3 0 0
4 1 1
5 0 0
6 1
1 1
7 1 1

Transmitter Receiver

Fig. 1 Parallel transmission.

Serial Transmission

In serial transmission, bits are transmitted serially one after the other (Fig.2). The
least significant

B 11010 010

ter Receiver

Fig. 2 Serial transmission.

Bit (LSB) is usually transmitted first. Note that as compared to transmission, serial
transmission requires only one circuit interconnecting the two devices. Therefore,
serial transmission is suitable for transmission over long distances.

Write the bit transmission sequence of the message given in Example 1.


3 p b α t
11001100 00001010 01110100 0 01000110 10000110 00101110

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Bits are transmitted as electrical signals over the interconnecting wires. The two
binary states “1” transmission is termed unipolar and if we choose to represent a
binary “1” by, say, a positive voltage + V volts and binary “0” by a negative voltage –
V volts, the transmission is said to be bipolar. Figure 3 shows the bipolar waveform of
the character “K”. Bipolar transmission is preferred because the signal does not have
any DC component. The transmission media usually do not allow the DC signals to
pass through.

Bit Rate
Bit rate is simply the number of bits which can be transmitted in a second. If t p is the
duration of a bit, the bit rate R will be 1/tp. It must be noted that bit duration is not
necessarily the pulse duration. For example, in Fig.3, the first pulse is of two-bit
duration. Letter, we will come across signal formats in which the pulse duration is
only half the bit duration.
Receiving Data Bits

The signal received at the other end of the transmitting medium is never identical to
the transmitted signal as the transmission medium distorts the signal to some extent.
As a result, the receiver has to put in considerable efforts to identify the bits. the
receiver must know the time instant at which it should look for a bit. Therefore, the
receiver must have synchronized clock pulses which mark the location of the bits. The
received signal is sampled using the clock pulses, and depending on the polarity of a
sample, the corresponding bit is identified (Fig. 4).
1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 Transmitted

Received Signal

Clock Signal

Sampled Signal
1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0
Fig.4 Bit recovery

It is essential that the received signal is sampled at the right instants as otherwise it
could be misinterpreted. Therefore, the clock frequency should be exactly the same as
the transmission bit rate. Even a small difference will built up as timing error and
eventually result in sampling at wrong instants. When the clock frequency is slightly
faster or slightly slower than the bit rate, a bit may be sampled twice and may be

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There are two methods of timing control for reception of bits. The transmission modes
corresponding to these two timing methods are called Asynchronous transmission and
Synchronous transmission.
Asynchronous Transmission
We call an action asynchronous when the agent performing the action does so
whenever it wishes. Asynchronous transmission refers to the case when the sending
end commences transmission of bytes at any instant of time. Only one byte is sent at
a time and there is no time relation between consecutive bytes, i.e., after sending a
byte, the next byte can sent after arbitrary delay (Fig. 5).In the idle state, when no byte
is being transmitted, the polarity of the electrical signal corresponds to “1”

Idle Idle Idle

Start Start
1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 bit
Stop bit Stop
bit bit

Fig. 5 Asynchronous transmission.

Due to the arbitrary delay between consecutive bytes, the time occurrences of the
clock pulses at the receiving end need to be synchronized repeatedly for each byte.
This is achieved by providing two extra bits, a start bit at the beginning and a stop bit
at the end of a byte.
Start Bit. The start bit is always “0” and is prefixed to each byte. At the onset
transmission of a byte, it ensures that the electrical signal changes form idle state “1”
to “0” and remains at “0” for one bit duration. The leading edge of the start bit used as
a time reference for generating the clock pulses at the required sampling instants.
Thus, each onset of a byte results in resynchronization of the receiver clock.
Stop Bit. To ensure that the transition from “1” to “0” is always present at the
beginning of a byte, it is necessary that polarity of the electrical signal should
correspond to “1” before occurrence of the start bit. That is why the idle state is kept
at “1”. But there may be two bytes, one immediately following the other and if the last
bit of the first byte is “0”, the transition from “1” to “0” will not occur. Therefore, a
stop bit is also suffixed to each byte. It is always “1” and its duration is usually 1, 1.5
or 2 bits.
Synchronous Transmission
A synchronous action, unlike an asynchronous action, is carried out under the control
of a timing source. In synchronous transmission, bits are always synchronized to a
reference clock irrespective of the bytes they belong to. There are no start or stop bits.
bytes are transmitted as a block (group of bytes) in a continuous stream of bits (Fig.
6). Even the inter block idle time is filled with idle characters.
Direction of Transmission
F Flag F Flag
Block Of bytes Idle data Block Of bytes
lag lag

Block 2 Block 1
Fig. 6 Synchronous transmission.

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Continuous transmission of bits enables the receiver to extract the clock from the
incoming electrical signal . As this clock is inherently synchronized to the bits, the job
of the receiver becomes simpler.
There is, however, still one problem. The bytes lose their identity and their boundaries
need to be identified. Therefore, a unique sequence of fixed number of bits, called
flag, is prefixed to each block. The flag identifies the start of a block. The receiver
first detects the flag and then identifies the boundaries of different bytes using a
counter. Just after the flag there is first bit of the first byte.
A more common term for data block is frame. A frame contains may other fields in
addition to the flag. We will discuss frame structures later in the chapter on Data Link
For transmission of the bits as electrical signals, simple positive and negative voltage
representation of the two binary states may not be sufficient. Some of the transmission
requirements of digital signals are:
• Sufficient signal transitions should be present in the transmitted signal for the
clock extraction circuit at the receiving end to work properly.
• Bandwidth of the digital signal match the bandwidth of the transmission
• There should not be any ambiguity in recognizing the binary states of the
received signal.
There are several ways of representing bits as digital electrical signals. Two broad
classes of signal representation codes are: Non-Return to Zero (NRZ) codes and
Return to Zero (RZ) codes.

0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0
NRZ-L Coding (Data )

Clock Signal

NRZ-M Coding

NRZ-S Coding
Fig. 7 NRZ signal encoding

NRZ-L. In NRZ-L (Non Return to Zero-Level), the bit is represented by a voltage

level which remains constant during the bit duration.
NRZ-M and NRZ-S. In NRZ-M (Non Return to Zero-Mark), and NRZ-S (Non-
Return to Zero-Space), it is a change in signal level which corresponds to one bit
value, and absence of a change corresponds to the other bit value. “Mark” or “1”
changes the signal level in NRZ-M and “Space” or “0” changes the signal level in
NRZ-S. NRZ-M is also called NRZ-I, Non-Return to Zero-Invert n ones.

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Return to Zero (RZ) Codes

We mentioned in the last section that the clock can be extracted from the digital signal
if bits are continuously transmitted. However, if there is a continuous string of zeros
or ones and if it is coded using one of the NRZ codes, the electrical signal will not
have any level transitions. For the receiver clock extraction circuit, it will be as good
as no signal.

The RZ codes usually ensure signal transitions for any bit pattern and thus overcome
the above limitation of NRZ codes. These codes are essentially a combination of
NRRZ-L and the clock signal. Figure 8 shows some examples of RZ codes.

0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 NRZ-L Coding (Data)

Clock Signal

Manchester Coding

Bi-phase-M Coding

Bi-phase-S Coding

Manchester Coding

Fig. 8 RZ signal encoding.

Manchester Code. In this code, “1” is represented as logical AND of “1” and the
clock. This produces one cycle of clock. For “0”, this clock cycle is inverted. Note
that whatever be the bit sequence each bit period will have one transition. The
receiver clock extraction circuit never faces a dearth of transitions. The Manchester
code is widely employed to represent data in local area networks. It is also called
Biphase-L code.

Biphase-M Code. In this code also there is always a transition at the beginning of a
bit interval. Binary “1” has another transition in the middle of the bit interval.

Biphase-S Code. In this code also there is a transition at the beginning of a bit
interval. Binary “0” has another transition in the middle of the bit interval.

Differential Manchester Code. In this Code there is always a transition in the

middle of a bit interval. Binary “0” has additional transition at the beginning of the

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Other Signal Codes

Local area networks based on optical fibres use another type of signal code termed
4B/FB. In this code four data bits are taken at a time and coded into 5 bits. There are
32 possible combinations of 5 bits. of these combinations, 15 codes are selected to
represent 16 possible sets of 4 bits. The codes are so selected that there are at least
two signal transitions in a group of 5 bits for clock recovery.

Base-band Transmission
When a digital signal is transmitted on the medium using one of the signal codes
discussed earlier, it is called baseband transmission. Baseband transmission is limited
to low data rates because at high data rates, significant frequency components are
spread over a wide frequency band over which the transmission characteristics of the
medium do not remain uniform. For faithful reproduction of a signal, it is necessary
that the relative amplitudes and phase relationships of the frequency components are
maintained during transmission. For transmitting data at high bit rates we need to use
modulation techniques which we will discuss later.


A transmission channel transports the electrical signals from the transmitter to the
receiver. It is characterized by two basic parameters – bandwidth and signal-to-noise
ratio. These parameters determine the ultimate information-carrying capacity of a
channel. Nyquist derived the limit of data rate considering a perfectly noiseless
channel. Nyquist’s theorem states that if B is the bandwidth of a transmission channel
which carrier a signal having L levels (a binary digital signal has two levels), the
maximum data rate R is given by

R = 2B log2 L

When bits are transmitted as an electrical signal having two levels, the bits rate and
the “modulation” rate of the electrical signal are the same (Fig. 9). Modulation rate is
the rate at which the electrical

Fig. 9 Baud rate for two-level modulation.

Signal changes its levels. It is expressed in bauds (“per second” is implied). Note that
there is one to one correspondence between bits and electrical levels.
It is possible to associate more than one bit to one electrical level. For example, if the
electrical signal has four distinct levels, two bits can be associated with one electrical
level (Fig. 10). In this case, the bit rate is twice the baud rate.

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Fig. 10 Baud rate for four-level modulation.


In Fig. 17, the four levels define four states of the electrical signal. The electrical state
can also be defined in terms of other attributes of an electrical signal such as
amplitude, frequency or phase. The basic electrical signal is a sine wave in this case.
The binary signal modulates one of these signal attributes. The sine wave carries the
information and is, therefore termed “carrier”. The device which performs
modulation is called a modulator and the device which recovers the information signal
from the modulated carrier is called a demodulator. In data transmission, we usually
come across devices which perform both modulation as well as demodulation
function and these devices are called modems. Modems are required when data is to
be transmitted over long distances. In a modem, the input digital signal modulates a
carrier which is transmitted to the distant end. At the distant end, another modem
demodulates the received carrier to get the digital signal. A pair of modems is, thus,
always required.


Communication and transmission terms are often interchangeably used, but it is

necessary to understand the distinction between the two activities. Transmission is
physical movement of information and concerns issues like bit polarity,
synchronization, clock, electrical characteristics of signals, modulation, demodulation
etc. we have so far been examining these data transmission issues.

Communication has a much wider connotation than transmission. It refers to

meaningful exchange of information between the communicating entities. Therefore,
in data communications we are concerned with all the issues relating to exchange of
information in the form of a dialogue, e.g., dialogue discipline, interpretation of
messages, and acknowledgements.

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Synchronous Communication
Communication can be asynchronous and synchronous. In synchronous mode of the
communication, the communicating entities exchange messages in a disciplined
manner. An entity can send a message when it is permitted to do so.

Entity A Entity B

Hello B!
Do you want to send data? Go ahead.
Yes. Here it is.
Any more data?

The dialogue between the entities A and B is “synchronized” in the sense that each
message of the dialogue is a command or response. Physical transmission of data
bytes corresponding to the characters of these messages could be in synchronous or
asynchronous mode.

Asynchronous Communication

Asynchronous communication, on the other hand, is less disciplined. A

communicating entity can send message whenever it wishes to.

Entity A Entity B

Hello B!
Hello! Here is some data
Here is some data Here is more data
Did you receive what I sent?
Yes. Here is more data. Please
Acknowledged, Bye

Note the lack of discipline in the dialogue. The communicating entities send messages
whenever they please, Here again, physical transmission of bytes of the messages can
be in synchronous or asynchronous mode. We will come across many example of
synchronous and asynchronous communication in this book when we discuss
protocols. Protocols are the rules and procedures for communication.

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There are three possibilities of data exchange:
1. Transfer in both direction at the same time.
2. Transfer in either direction, but only in one direction at a time.
3. Transfer in one direction only.
Terminology used for specifying the directional capabilities is different for data
transmission and for data communication (Table4).

Table 4 Terminology for Directional Capabilities

Directional Capability Transmission Communication

One direction only Simplex (SX) One Way (OW)

One direction at a time Half duplex (HDX) Two-Way Alternate
Both direction at the same time Full duplex (FDX) Two-Way Simultaneous


Binary codes are used for representing the symbols for computer communications.
ASCII is the most common code set used worldwide. The bits of a binary code can be
transmitted in parallel or in serial form. Transmission is always serial unless the
devices are near each other. Serial transmission mode can be asynchronous or
synchronous. Asynchronous transmission is byte by byte transmission and start/stop
bits are appended to each byte. In synchronous transmission, data is transmitted in the
form of frames having flags to identify the start of a frame. Clock is required in
synchronous transmission. Digital signals are coded using RZ codes to enable clock
extraction at the receiving end.

A communication channel is limited in its information-carrying capacity by its

bandwidth and the noise present in the channel. To make best use of this limited
capacity of the channel, very sophisticated carrier-modulation methods are used.
modems are the devices which carry out the modulation and demodulation functions.

Data communication has wider scope as compared to data transmission.

Asynchronous and synchronous communication refer to non-disciplined and
disciplined exchange of messages respectively.

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