Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Analog or Frequency Multiplexing

In this post continue discussing some of the different legacy technologies used by the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Today let's take a dive into analog or frequency multiplexing.

Analog or frequency multiplexing is now an obsolete technology in the U.S. telecommunications industry. It was used up until the early 1990’s by long-distance carriers like AT&T and MCI and is still used today in other countries. The concept of channel banks was developed for analog multiplexing and this concept is still used today for other types of multiplexing. To multiplex calls each call was given a narrow range of frequency in the available bandwidth. We know all voice call channels occupy the same frequency range – approximately 4000 Hz if we include individual call guardbands. If we want to combine a group of voice calls and separate them by frequency we must translate the frequency of these individual call channels using a process called Single Sideband, Suppressed Carrier Modulation. This technique allowed 10,800 individual voice call channels to be combined and transmitted over one coaxial copper pair. Let’s look at how it was done.

Individual voice call channels are placed into groups of 12. If we have 12 channels per group and each channel is 4000 Hz we can calculate:
This 48KHz is placed in the frequency range of 60 – 108 KHz. 

Single Group Formation

Individual groups are placed into supergroups of 5 and each supergroup contains 60 individual voice channels. If we have 5 groups and each group is 48 KHz we can calculate:

This 240KHz is placed in the frequency range of 312 – 552 KHz.

Supergroup Formation

Individual supergroups are placed into mastergroups of 10 and each mastergroup contains 600 individual voice channels. If we have 10 supergroups and each supergroup is 240 KHz we can calculate:

This 2.40MHz is placed in the frequency range of 564 – 2.964 MHz.

Mastergroup Formation

Individual mastergroups are placed into jumbogroups of 6 and each jumbogroup contains 3600 individual voice channels. If we have 6 mastergroups and each mastergroup is 2.4 MHz we can calculate:

This 14.4 MHz is placed in the frequency range of 3.084 – 17.484 MHz.

Jumbogroup Formation

Jumbogroup Multiplex
The final multiplexing step involves combining individual jumbogroups which are placed into jumbogroup multiplexes of 3. Each jumbogroup multiplex contains 10,800 individual voice channels. I'm still amazed - 10,800 calls on one piece of coaxial cable!

Frequency multiplexing is now considered obsolete technology on the telecommunications network. Analog signals are more sensitive to noise and other signals which can cause problems along the transmission path. Those long coaxial cables make pretty good antennas. They have been replaced with digital multiplexers. In my next legacy PSTN post I'll cover how digital multiplexing works.

reference: Introduction to Telecommunications Networks by Gordon F Snyder Jr, 2002

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As an IT computer type person without a communications background I find these posts to be fascinating Gordon. Please keep posting so people like me can keep learning