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Topic X Broadband

Communications
(Part II)

OBJECTIVE
On completion of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Describe the main features of digital subscriber line access


technologies (xDSL).

2.

Explain the operational principles of ADSL.

3.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of ADSL.

4.

Explain the operational principles of cable modems.

5.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of cable modems.

6.

Analyse and compare the performance of ADSL with cable


modems.

7.

Explain the basic concept of fixed wireless networks.

8.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of LMDS.

X OVERVIEW
In this topic, you will be introduced to three different broadband access
technologies for SOHO users: xDSL, cable modems and Fixed Wireless
Networks.
Well start with xDSL, a family of broadband access technologies run over
twisted pairs. Basic xDSL concepts will be discussed, and then well focus our
study on ADSL and VDSL. The Integrated service model of using ATM over
ADSL will also be covered.

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

57

Next, youll learn how high-speed data service can be supported over Cable TV
networks. The general operating principles of cable modems will also be
explained. Then well move our discussion from wireline networks to wireless
networks; LMDS technology will be introduced.

INTRODUCTION

In the previous topic we discussed several high-speed backbone networks with


bandwidths up to 1 Gbps. Such backbone networks are capable of transporting
bandwidth-hungry applications such as digital TV broadcasts to thousands of
users. And, thanks to the introduction of the new Dense Wavelength Division
Multiplexing (DWDM) technologies, the telecommunications industry is working
to develop 10 Gbps Ethernet. Yet all of this good news seems to be only for endusers with access to networks via LANs (such as Ethernet).
The vast majority of Small Office Home Office (SOHO) users today still connect
to the Internet via traditional Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN) with
dial-up modems. Unless there is a breakthrough in the technology that links
subscribers homes with backbone networks, most residential users cannot enjoy
the promise of broadband services. The situation is similar to building
superhighways for users who can only ride bicycles on them! This is known as
the last mile problem that is, how to connect the broadband communication
infrastructure along the relatively short distance (hence, the last mile) to and
from individual homes or businesses.
In this topic, you will be introduced to several emerging technologies that can
ease this last mile problem for SOHO users:
1.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Lines (ADSL);

2.

cable modems; and

3.

Fixed Wireless Networks.

These technologies will enable end users to enjoy bandwidth in the range of 1~10
Mbps. Compared to the fastest 56 kbps modems used nowadays, many users will
realize at least a 30-fold jump in bandwidth capacity. This newly-provided
bandwidth will enable users to run real-time applications such as video
conferencing and online entertainment.
In this topics first reading, Dutta-Roys paper gives you a quick overview of the
emerging technologies relevant to SOHO users. This article will give you a
general idea about the range of different technologies; youll then study them indepth in later parts of this topic.

58 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

READING 3.1
Dutta-Roy, A (1999) Bring home the Internet, IEEE Spectrum, 36(3)
(March): 3238.

You should be ready at this point to undertake the topics first activity. Please
complete it before you move on to this topics second topic.

ACTIVITY 3.1
1.

Please describe an important advantage of ADSL or cable


modem over traditional 56K modems.

2.

Please explain a major difference between ADSL and cable


modem.

We shall start our discussion with xDSL technology because it provides


broadband access through existing telephone networks.

DIGITAL SUBSCRIBER LINES (XDSL)


Theres no doubt that telephone networks are the most widely deployed
networks today. Billions of people use the telephone system to talk to each other
worldwide. Before the invention of modern computers in the 1950s, 100 per cent
of traffic carried over the telephone networks was voice traffic.
As has been the case with many technological developments, military purposes
proved to be the driving force for innovative new uses for this network. To
coordinate different military sites across the US, there was a need to send digital
data over long distances. Since telephone networks were the most wellestablished networks at that time, it was quite natural to think of interconnecting
remote computers together over the phone lines. Unfortunately, telephone
networks were originally designed to support voice (analogue signals) only.
Some kind of mechanism thus was needed to transmit digital data over
telephone networks. This led to the invention of the MODEM. Note that the
word
modem
is
actually
an
acronym
that
stands
for
MOdulation/DEModulation.
The first generation of modems were all proprietary, running at around 300 bps.
With the advancement of modulation and coding techniques, however, the speed

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

59

of modems has gradually improved. Furthermore, the growing popularity of


modems has led to the development of international standards for their use.
These are known as V-series recommendations by ITU (previously known as
CCITT), which specifies modem standards for communications over analogue
phone lines. The series started with V.21 having a data rate of merely 300 bps in
the 1960s, and then progressed to the popular V.22 bis 2.4 kbps modem in the
80s. At present, V.90 modems transmitting at 56 kbps downstream and 33.6 kbps
upstream are widely used in remote dial-up networks (e.g. in the OUHK
Electronic Library modem pool). As you can see, we have seen about a 100-fold
improvement in transmission speed over the last three decades.
However, the required bandwidth for multimedia applications far exceeds even
the improved speed of modems. As you likely know, it is at best very
uncomfortable to watch video programmes over the Internet using a 56 kbps
modem. Clearly, existing modems cannot keep pace with the required
bandwidth of applications. Unfortunately, the latest V.34 or V.90 modems have
already achieved the 10 b/s/Hz figure, which approaches the theoretical limits
in a voice band (300 Hz3.4 kHz) line. That is, the speed of voice band modems
cannot be raised further by improvements in modulation or coding techniques.
Youll learn more about this just below, where youll read Papirs paper which
briefly overviews voice band modems. The article Asymmetric Digital
Subscriber Line (ADSL) by Web ProForum Tutorials also provides a brief history
of the development of the modem.
In the late 1980s, a new modem technology known as Digital Subscriber Line
(DSL) was introduced. DSL is used for narrowband ISDN (N-ISDN). DSL can
transmit duplex at 160 kbps (i.e. two 64 kbps B channels + one 16 kbps D channel
+ some overhead), which was much faster than the fastest V.32 modems (9.6
kbps) in use at that time. Unfortunately, the high cost of N-ISDN and limited
demand for high bandwidth applications (keep in mind that the World Wide
Web only gained its momentum after 1994) prevented its popularity. Although
N-ISDN can help improve the speed for accessing the Internet today, more
promising technology (e.g. ADSL) has since evolved. Therefore, N-ISDN is
gradually disappearing from the market.

60 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

READING 3.2a
Papir, Z and Simmonds, A (1999) Competing for throughput in the
local loop, IEEE Communications Magazine, 37(5) (May): 6166.
The article provides a brief review of voice band modems on pages
6164. It also discusses the theoretical limits of transmission rate in
voice channel.
The International Engineering Consortium, Section 13, Asymmetric
Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), Web ProForum Tutorials
http://www.webproforum.com/adsl/index.html
This article provides additional information on the history of voice
modems.
As noted above, the current V.90 modem has already approached the theoretical
limit of voice band. However, the bandwidth limitations of voice band lines are
imposed at the core network, where filters at the edge of the core network limit
the bandwidth to approximately 3.3 kHz. If we could remove these filters, the
bandwidth of a twisted pair could easily be extended into the MHz region. This
has led to the development of xDSL technologies.

What is xDSL?
Despite its name, xDSL does not refer to physical lines but to modems. xDSL is a
new modem technology used to transmit digital data with bandwidth on the
order of Mbps using twisted-pair copper lines. xDSL is really the name for a
whole family of high-speed copper access technologies such as Asymmetric
Digital Subscriber Lines (ADSL), High data rate Digital Subscriber Lines (HDSL),
Single line Digital Subscriber Lines (SDSL), Very high data rate Digital Subscriber
Lines (VDSL), and so on. Detailed information regarding these different xDSL
technologies can be found in the assigned readings below. As a general rule, the
data rate that can be supported over twisted pair lines depends on the lengths of
these lines. Since attenuation increases with line length and frequency, it restricts
the data rate over twisted pairs.

ADSL
Among the range of different xDSL technologies, ADSL (Asymmetric Digital
Subscriber Lines) have attracted a great deal of attention. An ADSL access
network is an overlay network, and therefore does not require expensive and
time-consuming switch upgrades as is the case for N-ISDN. ADSL modems use

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

61

digital coding techniques to squeeze up to 99% more capacity out of a phone line
without interfering with regular phone services. That is, ADSL allows subscribers
to enjoy high-speed access to the Internet and plain old telephone service
(POTS) at the same time. This ensures no disruptions to the telephone service
even if the ADSL modem is broken down. ADSL provides speeds of up to 6
Mbps downstream (to the user) and up to 640 kbps upstream, depending upon
line length, and loop and line conditions. This bandwidth is able to support most
real-time Internet applications. In addition, the asymmetry in ADSL transmission
rates coincides with the typical Web surfing behaviour. That is, most users
generally download much more information from servers than they upload to
remote sites.
Unlike dial-up modems, an ADSL connection is always on, so there is no need
to dial up for connection. In other words, once the computer is turned on, the
user can access the network. And unlike shared medium access technologies
(such as cable modems), ADSL gives each customer a dedicated link to a central
office at the local phone company. This can guarantee a given amount of
bandwidth (e.g. 1.5 Mbps) to each subscriber, and help to avoid potential security
problems that can occur with a shared medium. The next article by Dutta-Roy
and the remainder of the Papir article provide very good introductions to ADSL.
Please go through these readings carefully.
To attract more customers to use ADSL, cost and user-friendliness are important
factors. An inexpensive, plug-and-play version of the ADSL modem known as
G.Lite has been developed. G.Lite can deliver 1.5 Mbps downstream and 512
kbps upstream over a distance of 5.5 km. With this bandwidth, G.Lite is able to
support two general types of application interactive video and high-speed
data communications.
As you learned in the previous topic, the ATM Forum was formed to accelerate
the definition of ATM technology. The ADSL Forum plays a similar role to help
telephone companies and their suppliers realize the enormous market potential
of xDSL. Its website (www.adsl.com) contains useful information relating to
ADSL technology. In particular, you should read General Introduction to
Copper Access Technologies, which gives an overview of various xDSL
technologies when you access their site.

62 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

READING 3.2b
Papir, Z and Simmonds, A (1999) Competing for throughput in the
local loop, IEEE Communications Magazine, 37(5) (May): 6166.
The remainder of this article discusses the general concept of ADSL.

READING 3.3
Dutta-Roy, A (1999) A second wind for wiring, IEEE Spectrum, 36(9)
(Sept.): 5260.
This paper is the third paper in a series of articles discussing the
technology for high-speed access for SOHO users. It focuses on how
xDSL technology can be used to transmit data in the Mbps range using
existing telephone lines. This article serves as a good introduction to
xDSL technology. You are encouraged to read this article in detail.
ADSL Forum, General Introduction to Copper Access Technologies
http://www.adsl.com/aboutdsl/general_tutorial.html
The article overviews the various copper access technologies (xDSL). As
a rule of thumb, the data rate increases with decreasing line length.
International Engineering Consortium, Asymmetric Digital
Subscriber Line (ADSL), Web ProForum Tutorials http://www.

The

webproforum .com/adsl/index.html
The tutorial on ADSL by Web ProForum Tutorials is also informative.
Since this online tutorial is rather short, you can quickly scan through it.
Please do take the time to complete the self-tests at the end of the
tutorial.
(optional reading) ADSL Forum, ADSL tutorial http://www.adsl.com/
aboutdsl/adsl_tutorial.html
This tutorial from ADSL Forum provides another reference for ADSL
and you can quickly scan through it. In addition, I recommend you to
visit the FAQs in the ADSL Forum.
(optional
reading)
http://www.whatis.com/

whatis.com,

DSL

and

xDSL

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

63

This article, provided by whatis.com, contains useful information related to


xDSL and its associated technology. In addition, this website provides very
good references to various technologies in the fields of communications and
computing. You are encouraged to visit their site frequently.

After the above readings, it is time to test your understanding of the material.
Please try to answer the following questions completely on your own, and then
check your answers with the sample ones provided at the end of this topic.

SELF-TEST 3.1
1.

What would you say are the major advantages of ADSL?

2.

Why is it possible to support both voice and data service in


ADSL simultaneously?

3.

What is the major advantage of G.Lite modems instead of the


full version of ADSL?

4.

Identify three problems involved in transmitting high-speed


data over twisted pairs in telephone networks.

5.

Identify the two different types of ADSL modems.

VDSL
Due to various types of attenuation, the bit rate of xDSL decreases with
increasing line length. If we decrease the transmission distance, therefore, the bit
rate can be further boosted. This concept has led to the development of Very high
rate Digital Subscriber Lines (VDSL) the highest rate xDSL technology, which
can run at a speed of 52 Mbps over a distance of 300 m. Similar to ADSL, VDSL
also uses advanced transmission techniques and forward error correction to
realize such high data transmission rates. Since shorter lines impose fewer
transmission constraints, it simplifies the transceiver technology as well.
Consequently, VDSL has simpler implementation requirements than ADSL, even
though its speed is ten times faster.

64 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

Unlike ADSL, VDSL can operate in both symmetric and asymmetric modes.
Asymmetric VDSL is targeted at residential services such as Web surfing and
digital TV (and high-definition TV as well). Symmetric VDSL, however, is
usually viewed as a business service, to allow high-speed connections (up to 26
Mbps duplex) between buildings making use of existing phone lines. As the
newest member of the xDSL technology family, the standards for VDSL are still
under development. Please work through the two tutorials provided by the
ADSL Form and Web ProForum Tutorials for an introduction to VDSL. The
optional reading by Cioffi is rather technical. Please dont worry if you do not
fully understand the details.

READINGS
ADSL Forum, VDSL Tutorial <http://www.adsl.com/aboutdsl/
general_tutorial.html>
The International Engineering Consortium, Very-High-Data-Rate
Subscriber Line (VDSL), Web ProForum Tutorials
<http://www.webproforum.com/vdsl/index.html>

Digital

These two online tutorials provide you with an overview of VDSL


technology and you can quickly scan through this tutorial. Please
complete the self-tests at the end of the tutorial.

READING 3.4
(Optional reading) Cioffi, J M et al. (1999) Very-High-Speed Digital
Subscriber Lines, IEEE Communication Magazine, 37(4) (April):
7279
This article overviews the basic architecture, applications and design
of VDSL. You may find that the part on implementation is a bit hard
to understand because it is quite technical. You can skip the technical
details.

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

65

Integrating ATM with ADSL


In the previous topic you learned that ATM networks provide an ideal solution
to support broadband services. Particularly, the ability to provide quality of
service (QoS) is an important feature of ATM. However, the major obstacle for
wide deployment of ATM is the need for a reliable high-speed physical network
such as SONET to support ATM service. Particularly, it is still quit expensive to
set up dedicated optical fibre network to link SOHO users and service providers.
This kind of fibre to the home (FTTH) service will not be get popular in the
future.
However, with the introduction of ADSL/VDSL, high-speed physical links for
SOHO users are more affordable. Then ATM can be run over an ADSL access
network. In the next article, you will learn how ATM can be integrated with
ADSL.

READING 3.5
Chohen, R (1999) Service provisioning in an ATM-over-ADSL Access
Network, IEEE Communication Magazine, 37(10) (Oct.): 8287.
This article addresses the issue of service provisioning in an ATMover-ADSL Access Network. It concentrates on the provisioning of
services using the PPP protocol.

Virtual Lecture (optional)


Jain, R Residential broadband: technologies for high-speed access to homes,
The Ohio State University, CIS788.08Q Class Lecture 10/26/99
<http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/~jain/cis788-99/h_9rbb.htm>
You are encouraged to listen to this virtual lecture on Residential Broadband
by Prof. Jain. The whole lecture lasts for 70 minutes and gives a very good
overview of ADSL and cable modem technology. You can first listen to the
lecture up to slide 14 for information on xDSL, which will take you about 30
minutes. I recommend you try the Slides + Audio option because the speed is
faster.

66 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

As youve seen, the major difficulty in providing broadband services for


residential users is the last mile problem how can home users be connected
effectively? The most attractive feature of xDSL is its ability to provide highspeed access using existing phone networks. xDSL can help minimize the need
for building another network to connect each household. In summary, xDSL is a
promising technology for providing broadband service to SOHO users via
existing copper twisted-pairs.
There is no doubt that the telephone network is the most well-established
network in the world. There are, however, also other alternatives to telephone
networks. Many public utilities such as electricity companies, gas companies and
Cable TV have already established extensive optical fibre and radio link
networks laid alongside their electric grids and pipelines. These network
infrastructures were originally designed to communicate control or maintenance
signals. If these existing networks can somehow be enhanced, it might be
possible for them to provide data service to residential users. Hence, some public
utilities are eager to become Internet service providers. In particular, Cable TV
(CATV) is well suited to provide broadband service in addition to TV broadcasts
because of its hybrid optical-fibre and coaxial cable distribution networks. In the
next section, we shall discuss the use of cable modems to provide broadband
service over CATV networks.

CABLE MODEMS
In recent years, the Cable TV (CATV) system has become more popular.
Modern cable networks are a hybrid of optical-fibre and coaxial cables. That is,
TV signals are carried over optical fibres from cable companies to neighbourhood
distribution points, or so called head-ends. The signals are then distributed to
residences by coaxial cables. This infrastructure gives Cable TV networks
sufficient bandwidth to provide high-speed data services in its service areas
(typically 100 km).
In standard NTSC TV broadcasts, each channel requires a bandwidth of 6 MHz.
(Recall that voice channels only have a bandwidth of 3.3 kHz.) Similar to
voiceband modems, cable modems modulate and demodulate data signals so
that they can be transmitted over Cable TV networks. A user can simply connect
his or her PC via a cable modem to a CATV system TV outlet and start data
transmission. Although the name modem is used, a cable modem works more
like a LAN interface than a modem. That is, a cable modem operates in a sharedmedium situation (coaxial cable) similar to Ethernet.

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67

The first generation of cable modems were all of proprietary design and mostly
supported downstream data services only. That is, cable companies broadcast
information to the subscribed users. For a return path, the user needed to use a
standard telephone line to transmit upstream information back to the cable
company. This is quite similar to the early version of pay-per-view services
provided by Cable TV. This kind of cable modem system is known as the
telephony return interface (TRI) system. With the introduction of the Cable
Modem Termination System (CMTS) at the head-end, two-way communications
can be integrated over cable networks. Current cable modem systems use
Ethernet frame format for duplex data transmission. However, TRI systems are
still used in those areas served by satellite or wireless Cable TV networks.
Similar to ADSL, cable modem systems also have asymmetric data rates in the
upstream and downstream traffic. In one cable modem standard (DOCSIS),
either 64 QAM or 256 QAM is used to carry downstream data over a 6 MHz
channel, while QPSK is used to carry upstream data over a 2 MHz channel. To
avoid potential frequency shift problem after complicated modulation process,
only 4.5 MHz in the 6 MHz channel is used for downstream transmission in
DOCSIS 1.1. Using 256 QAM, the downstream data rate is equivalent to
log(256)/log(2) (bit/Hz/s)
4.5 MHz = 36 Mbps. Similarly, the upstream data
rate will be around 3 Mbps. Based on this figure, you might conclude that a cable
modem system provides faster service than ADSL. However, this is not exactly
true from the users perspective. ADSL provides a dedicated bandwidth (e.g. 1.5
Mbps) to each user over a single telephone line, while the available bandwidth in
cable networks is shared among many users. This is similar to the case with
Ethernet. Therefore, the achievable transmission rate for cable modem systems
will drop with an increasing number of users. If too many users are supported on
a channel, a new channel can be set up to provide additional bandwidth.
The next tutorial, from Cable-Modems.Org, is very comprehensive and gives you
a very good introduction to cable modem technology. The other articles set out
below, by Web ProForum Tutorial and Dutta-Roy, provide additional
information on cable modem systems; you can go through them quite quickly.
You are also encouraged to listen to an optional virtual seminar by Prof. Jain on
residential broadband.
Please attempt Self-test 3.2 after youve finished the readings.

68 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

READINGS
Cable-Modems.Org, ABC of Cable Modem What is a Cable
Modem? http://www.cable-modems.org/tutorial/
This is a comprehensive tutorial offered by Cable-Modems.Org. After
going through this tutorial, you should have a good grasp of basic
cable modem concepts and associated technology. The Web page also
contains useful information such as Q&A on cable modems.
The International Engineering Consortium, Cable Modem, Web
ProForum Tutorials http://www.webproforum.com/cable_mod/
index.html
This tutorial provides additional information on cable modems. You
can go through this tutorial quickly, but you should attempt its selftest exercise.

READING 3.6
Dutta-Roy, A (1999) Cable: its not just for TV, IEEE Spectrum, 36(5)
(May): 5359.
This paper provides a quick overview of cable modems. The general
concepts and development of cable modems are discussed.
whatis.com, Cable Modem
http://www.whatis.com/
This article provides a very brief description of cable modems.

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

69

Virtual lecture (optional)


Jain, R Residential Broadband: Technologies for High-Speed Access to
Homes, The Ohio State University, CIS788.08Q Class Lecture 10/26/99
<http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/~jain/cis788-99/h_9rbb.htm>
Now you can complete the remaining part of this residential broadband
lecture. It introduces basic cable modem concepts and various standards.
Other high-speed access technologies such as Fibre to the Curb (FTTC), Fibre
to the Home (FTTH) and Wireless networks are briefly described as well.

SELF-TEST 3.2
1.

What are the differences between a voice band modem and a cable
modem?

2.

What features must be needed to add to the existing cable


network to enable duplex communications?

3.

Please identify the three organizations involve in standardizing


cable modems.

4.

What would you say are the problems involved in using cable
modems?

5.

What are the access methods used to coordinate upstream data?

Although the penetration rate of CATV is not as high as the telephone network,
the number of potential customers cannot simply be ignored. With the
improvement of the CATV network, more TV programmes and multimedia
applications can be added to the system. In particular, the introduction of cable
modems should attract more customers who desire high-speed access to the
Internet.
The major obstacle to building a wireline network (e.g. telephone or CATV
network) is the need to lay down the actual copper lines or optical fibres in the
service area. This is a painfully slow and costly process. Service providers are
looking for alternatives wireless systems. Compared with wireline
technologies, wireless systems are cheaper and faster to install and operate. In
the following section, we shall look at fixed wireless networks, which can also
provide broadband services.

70 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

FIXED WIRELESS NETWORKS


Wireless networks have been used for data communications for more than 40
years. Wireless networks have traditionally been particularly suitable for
connecting remote sites where wireline networks are difficult and/or expensive
to build. For instance, the University of Hawaii developed the famous Aloha
system to link a group of computers distributed around several islands to a
central computer located on the island of Oahu.
It is widely agreed that going wireless is a fast track for providing
telecommunications services to a community. Unlike cellular phones, which
emphasize mobility, fixed wireless systems can offer highly reliable wideband
communications to support television and high-speed data transmissions.
A fixed wireless network normally operates in a point-to-multipoint mode. That
is, each service antenna communicates with several different clients antennae
installed within a specified area. The maximum data rate depends on both the
frequency band used and the coverage area.
There are two popular systems for fixed wireless networks: Multichannel
Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) and Local Multipoint Distribution
Service (LMDS). MMDS operates at a frequency of around 2.5 GHz, and was
originally designed to provide TV service over a wide area (as far as 50 km from
the transmitter). For instance, Cable TV is still using MMDS to provide TV
service for those areas that are not covered by fibre network. MMDS requires
line-of-sight transmission and is limited by multipath fading. In contrast to
MMDS, LMDS operates at a higher frequency (above 25 GHz) and covers a
smaller area (up to 8 km). Due to its higher operating frequency, rain attenuation
predominates in LMDS.
In addition to their use of wireless links, the operating principles of fixed
wireless networks are very similar to wireline cable networks. The service
provider communicates with local distribution nodes via radio links, and then
twisted pair or coaxial cable is used to carry the data to individual residences.
Like wireline networks, ADSL/cable modems can be used to send and receive
data. Using 64-QAM, the 6 MHz RF channel can also deliver up to 30-Mbps data
capacity, which is comparable to its wireline counterpart.
Please read the survey paper by Tipparaju for a detailed discussion of LMDS.
The tutorial articles by Dutta-Roy and Web ProForum Tutorials also contain
comprehensive information on Fixed Wireless Networks. Please dont forget to
attempt the self-test that follows.

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

71

READING 3.7
Dutta-Roy, A (1999) Fixed wireless routes for Internet access, IEEE
Spectrum, 36(9) (Sept.): 6169.
This paper is another paper in a series of articles discussing broadband
services to residential users. It provides a general overview of fixed
wireless networks. It also has useful links to other references in fixed
wireless networks.
The International Engineering Consortium, Local Multipoint
Distribution System, Web ProForum Tutorials http://www.
webproforum.com/lmds/index.html
This tutorial introduces basic LMDS concepts and operating principles.
The technical level of this tutorial is at the right level for appreciating
and understanding LMDS. Please be sure to attempt the self-test at the
end of this tutorial.
Tipparaju, V Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS), The Ohio
State
University
<http://www.cis.ohio-state.edu/~jain/cis78899/lmds/index.html>
This survey paper on LMDS discusses different fixed wireless
communication and the design and introduces some technical issues.

Optional tutorial
The International Engineering Consortium, Wireless Broadband Modem, Web
ProForum Tutorials <http://www.webproforum.com/wire_broad/index.
html>
This tutorial discusses the operation of broadband wireless systems. Please
pay attention to the similarities between wireless cable modems and wired
ones.

72 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

SELF-TEST 3.3
1.

What are some of the advantages of using fixed wireless


networks?

2.

What are the functions of a base station in an LMDS system?

3.

What are the access technologies used in an LMDS system?

What are the factors involved in limiting the cell coverage


distance in LMDS?

THE FUTURE OF RESIDENTIAL BROADBAND


The emerging residential broadband technologies weve discussed so far
ADSL, cable modems, and so on can provide bandwidth up to the order of 10
Mbps for each user. For now, this capacity seems more than sufficient to support
most of our daily applications. As is always the case in the advance of CPUs,
however, new applications will emerge that will eventually swallow this
available bandwidth. For instance, one hot potential application is Web
entertainment such as interactive TV over the Internet, Web games, etc. Existing
networks may not be able to support these new bandwidth-greedy applications.
This cries out for the construction of new networks.
Two such new network infrastructures have been proposed:
1.

extensive optical fibre network an extension of existing wireline


networks to a full-scale optical fibre network; and

2.

broadband satellite networks an attempt to provide high-speed data


services to home users through satellite links.

Optical fibre can supply virtually unlimited bandwidth (at least to the perception
of a general user). In recent years, telephone companies have gradually replaced
their old copper cables with optical fibres worldwide. For instance, PCCWHKT
has already upgraded all copper wires in its backbone to fibre optics. In addition,
developing countries such as China have installed fibre extensively in their
phone networks. This has set up a fundamental network architecture for all
optical fibre-based networks.
There are several approaches to providing broadband service using optical fibre
network: Fibre to the Home (FTTH), Fibre to the Curb (FTTC), Fibre to the
Building (FTTB) and Fibre to the Neighbourhood (FTTN). As the names imply,

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

73

these different approaches represent different levels of connection between a


central office and homes via optical fibre.
FTTH means that dedicated optical fibre is run from a central office to the
subscribers home. With current standard OC-3 optical fibre cable, each
residential user can have up to 155 Mbps bandwidth. Unfortunately, providing
such optical link to each household is a slow and costly process. Please read
Kettlers paper on the development of driving fiber to the home.
Instead of running optical fibre to individual homes, in FTTC, optical fibre
connections are run only from the central office to the curbs near homes. Then
unshielded twisted pair (e.g. CAT 5) or coaxial cable is used on the last mile to
connect to individual homes. This structure is very much similar to existing
hybrid fibre-coax CATV networks. Similarly, FTTB and FTTN involve the
installation of optical fibre between a central office and buildings, and between
the central office and curbs or buildings in a neighbourhood. This kind of hybrid
fibre-coax or fibre-copper structure represents a relatively cost-effective solution
for broadband service provision.
With the advances in wireless communication, broadband satellite networks (622
Mbps links are already available) have emerged as an alternative for optical
links. Such networks are particularly well suited for those situations in which
installation of optical fibre is not cost effective and/or is difficult. With
broadband satellite service, you can still watch TV or play online games even on
a cruise on the South China Sea. In addition, wireless systems can achieve the
ultimate goal of personal communication systems: a user can access broadband
service at any time, and at any place. Currently, PCCWHKT is working towards
the development of an Asian satellite broadband network. Hence, well likely see
the wide deployment of satellite broadband services in the future.

READING 3.8
Kettler, D et al. (2000) Driving Fiber to the Home, IEEE
Communications Magazine, 36(11)(Nov): 10610.
This reading discusses the concepts of residential ATM broadband
service. whatis.com, Fibre to the Curb <http://www.whatis.com/>
This article introduces basic FTTC concepts.

74 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

CASE STUDY
It is now time for a more comprehensive chance to test your understanding of
various residential broadband technologies. Consider the following two cases,
and do you best to work out the best solution or solutions for each one. These
two case studies will be discussed during your tutorial sessions. Please complete
the case studies on your own before attending the tutorial.
Case 1
Suppose you are a residential user and would like to enjoy broadband service.
The following criteria may help you make your decision: speed, security and
convenience. You can also think of your own criteria, and add other factors that
may affect your decision. You should first list out the performance of different
technologies according to each criterion.
Case 2
Suppose now you work in a small company as a network manager. You would
like to set up a LAN within your company and have high-speed access to the
Internet. Please make up a proposal to your boss about your plan. You should
consider the possible LAN topologies and broadband access technologies
available.

This topic has discussed several residential broadband technologies. xDSL


enables SOHO users to enjoy broadband service using existing telephone
networks. In particular, ADSL matches the typical users asymmetric behaviour
in upstream and downstream traffic during Web surfing. The general principles
and practice of ADSL were also discussed, and you were introduced to the ATM
over ADSL network structure, which can provide cost-effective service for
residential users.
We then looked at another competing technology cable modems. A cable
modem transports data traffic in CATV networks. Unlike ADSL, cable modem is
a shared medium technology. As a result, the bandwidth available in a cable
modem system depends on the number of simultaneous users. You compared
the performance of ADSL and cable modem systems and discussed their
advantages and disadvantages.
Fixed wireless networks have also attracted much attention recently. In
particular, we introduced emerging LMDS technology. We suggested that the
cost of installing LMDS is considered far lower than installing fibre optic cable or

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

75

upgrading Cable TV systems. Hence, going wireless allows cheap and fast
deployment of services to the public.
In this and the previous topic, we have discussed both backbone networks and
the last mile technologies needed to provide high-speed access to the Internet.
Although high speed is an essential factor, quality of service can be far more
important from the users point of view. In particular, we have seen increasing
demand for real-time applications such as video or voice over the Internet. In the
next topic, we shall discuss several technologies to provide Quality of Service
(QoS) on the Internet in the future.

ADSL

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line

ATM

Asynchronous Transfer Mode

B-ISDN

Broadband Integrated Service Digital Network

CMTS

Cable Modem Termination System

CATV

Cable TV system

CAP

Carrierless Amplitude-Phase

DAVIC

Digital Audio and Video Council

DMT

Discrete MultiTone

DOCSIS

Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification

DSL

Digital Subscriber Line

DVC

Digital Video Broadcasting Group

FTTC

Fibre To The Curb

FTTH

Fibre To The Home

Head-end

Central distribution point for a CATV system

ISDN

Integrated Service Digital Network

LAN

Local Area Network

LMDS

Local Multipoint Distribution Service

LOS

Line Of Sight

MCNS

Multimedia Cable Network System

MMDS

Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Services

76 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

OC3

Optical Carrier 3: an optical fibre line carrying 155 Mbps

ONU

Optical Network Unit

POTS

Plain Old Telephone Service

PSTN

Public Switched Telephone Network

QAM

Quadrature Amplitude Modulation

QPSK

Quaternary Phase Shift Keying

QoS

Quality of Service

RF

Radio Frequency

SOHO

Small Office Home Office

TRI

Telephony Return Interface

VDSL

Very high data rate Digital Subscriber Line

xDSL

Family of Digital Subscriber Line technologies such ADSL,


HDSL, VDSL etc.

SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO SELF-TEST QUESTIONS


Self-test 3.1
1.

2.

Major advantages of ADSL:


(a)

ADSL is always on: no need to dial up.

(b)

ADSL runs over existing twisted pairs and the cost is lower.

(c)

ADSL is not shared, and it offers more security.

(d)

An ADSL modem failure only affects one subscriber so it provides


higher reliability.

(e)

Each user gets dedicated bandwidth so quality of service will not be


affected by other users.

In ADSL, frequency division multiplexing is used. A 4 kHz region for


telephone service is reserved at the DC end of the band and data (upstream
and downstream) are transmitted at higher frequencies. An analogue
circuit called a Splitter is used to separate low-frequency voice telephony
signals from high-frequency data signals.

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

3.

4.

5.

77

Advantages of G.Lite:
(a)

lower cost;

(b)

reduced hardware complexity;

(c)

plug-N-play capability and the elimination of the need for an outside


technician to do the installation.

Problems of transmitting high-speed data over twisted pairs:


(a)

loading coil increases attenuation for signals transmitting above the


voice band;

(b)

intersymbol interference limits the data rate;

(c)

near-end and far-end cross talk.

Two types of ADSL modem:


(a)

Carrierless Amplitude-Phase (CAP);

(b)

Discrete MultiTone (DMT).


These two modems differ in their methods of modulating the digital
data on to an analogue carrier, i.e., they use different line coding
techniques.

Self-test 3.2
1.

2.

Voice band modem

Cable modem

Operates over telephone network

Operates over CATV network

Bandwidth ~ 3.4 kHz

Bandwidth 68 MHz

Point-to-point: a modem can talk


to another modem

Cable modem can only talk to


CMTS

Virtually unlimited operating


distance

Normally operates within a


distance of 100 km

The cable company needs to upgrade the system to allow bi-directional


data flow. This can be done by installing a return amplifier and bandsplitting filters. We also need controllers at the head end and special circuits
in the cable modem to separate upstream and downstream traffic.

78 X TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

3.

4.

The three standards bodies are:


(a)

Multimedia Cable Network System (MCNS)

(b)

DAVIC/DVB

(c)

IEEE

Some problems with cable modems are:


(a)

Since a cable modem is a shared medium technology, bandwidth per


user drops with an increasing number of users.

(b)

Since the lines are shared, hackers may be able to tap into a
neighbours connection. This creates potential security problems.

(c)

Cable modem access is not portable.

(d)

Since several users share a single coaxial cable, any problem with that
line can bring down all users on that cable.

Two schemes have been used for coordinating upstream data transmission:
(a)

time-division multiple access;

(b)

synchronous code division multiple access.

Self-test 3.3
1.

Advantages of using fixed wireless networks:


(a)

lower cost to set up the system;

(b)

faster speed of service deployment;

(c)

easy to expand service depending on market need.

2.

The conversion from fibred infrastructure to a wireless infrastructure takes


place at the base station. Therefore, the following functions are
implemented at the base station: fibre termination; modulation and
demodulation functions; and microwave transmission and reception.

3.

Three access technologies are used:


(a)

FDMA

(b)

TDMA

(c)

CDMA

TOPIC 3 BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS (PART II)

4.

The limiting factors are:


(a)

the availability of the link;

(b)

the modulation scheme used;

(c)

the rain region.

79