Monday, April 16, 2012

Data Transmission on T-1 Carriers Part 1

Back in December I wrote a post here titled T1 Lines - What They Are. In the post I discuss the Digital Signal (DS) Level System and how combining the equivalent of 24 DS-0 voice channels along with overhead consisting of timing and synchronization bits brings the DS-1 bit rate to 1.644 Mbps - that's a T1. In this post, let's have a look in more detail to get a better idea of how the entire system works. 

The T-1 Carrier uses time division multiplexing and was designed for voice call transmission. When used for data one would think it would be possible to achieve a data bit rate of 64 Kbps over a T-1 carrier. Looking a little closer one sees that data on T-1 carriers is transmitted in the form of only 7 bit words, all eight bits are not used. Why? 

Remember the T carrier system was initially designed for voice. The first signal synchronization used for the T-1 carrier substituted a single in band signaling bit, used for control, for each of the 24 channels in every sixth frame. This means in the sixth and twelfth frames of every T-1 carrier master frame there is a bit used for in-band signaling. This is referred to as bit-robbing. Bit robbing is usually not a problem when transmitting voice. Even though the signal is slightly distorted, the listener on the receiving end cannot perceive the distortion. However this is a major problem when transmitting data as any data received with missing bits will be distorted and received incorrectly. To eliminate the problem caused by bit robbing data on the T-1 carrier is limited to seven bits per frame in all frames. By decreasing the number of bits transmitted the data bit rate is reduced.
For this reason, 56 Kbps Clear Channel Capability is the term used to refer to the T-1 carrier single channel maximum data bit rate.

T-1 Carrier Pulse Cycles
If we look closer at a T-1 Carrier signal we see there are negative and positive pulses combined in the digital pulse train. A sample T-1 signal pulse train is shown in the figure below.

Sample T-1 Pulse Train

It has been found that alternating positive/negative pulse trains (bipolar) produces fewer transmission errors than all positive or all negative pulse trains. These pulses are used to represent binary 1’s and each pulse, when non-zero, is positive half the non-zero cycle (50%) and negative half the non-zero cycle. We can look at an example of a positive (cycle 1) and negative (cycle 4) pulse from the above figure.
Sample T-1 Positive and Negative Going Pulses

In the figure above, T represents the period, or time it takes to complete a single pulse cycle. We can calculate the percent duty cycle using the following equation:

The pulses here are not zero for one half of the pulse period and have a 50% duty cycle. Let’s go back now and look at the original pulse train diagram and look at each cycle:

You can now see that if a pulse is present within a cycle time slot, whether positive or negative, it represents a 1 bit and if no pulse is present, it represents a 0-bit.

In Part 2 of this series I'll cover something called Bipolar with Zero Substitution (B8ZS) for T-1 signal synchronization.

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