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Data communication
A communication model (elements of data communication)
The fundamental purpose of a communication system is the exchange of data between
two parties. E.g. the exchange of data between server and a workstation over a public
telephone line. Another example is the exchange of voice signals between two telephones
over the same network. The key elements of data communication model are as follows:
• Source: This device generates the data to be transmitted. Examples are of
telephones and personal computers.
• Transmitter: this device transmits the data generated by the source device.
Usually, the data generated by a source system are not transmitted directly in the
form in which the data was generated. Rather, a transmitter transforms and
encodes he data in such a way that data can be transmitted across a transmission
system (media). E.g. a modem takes digital data from a computer and transforms
that digital bit stream into an analog signal that can be handled by the analog
telephone network.
• Transmission system: this is the path the data follows to reach the destination
device. This can be a single transmission line or a complex network connecting
source and destination devices.
• Receiver: the receiver accepts the signals from the transmission system and
converts it into a form that can be handled by the destination device. For example,
a modem will accept analog signals from transmission line (telephone network)
and will convert it into a digital bit stream so that a device such as a computer can
handle it.
• Destination: this device takes the incoming signals from the receiver.

Data communication networks

In its simplest form data communication takes place between two devices that
are directly connected by some form of point-to-point transmission medium.
Often, however, it is impractical for two devices to be directly, point-to-point
connected because of the following reasons:
1. The devices are very far apart. It would be vary expensive, for example,
to provide a dedicated link between two devices thousands of miles apart.
2. There is a set of devices, each of which may require a link to many other
devices at various times. Examples are all of the telephones in the world
and all of the terminals and computers owned by an organization. Except
for the case of a very few devices, it is impractical to provide a dedicated
link between each pair of devices.
The solution to this problem is to attach each device to a communication network.
Communication networks are traditionally classified into the following two major
• LAN (Local area networks): the scope of a local area network is small. A local
area network is a number of computers and other devices connected to each other


by cable in a single location, usually a single floor of a building or all the

computers in a small company.
The internal data rates (speed) of a local area are much greater than those of the
wide area networks. Therefore local area networks are more suitable for resource
sharing between multiple computers.
Traditionally, local area networks make use of a broadcast approach rather than a
switching approach unlike wide area networks. In a broadcast communication
network, there are no switching devices. At each station (computer), there is a
transceiver (transmitter/receiver) that communicates over a medium shared by
other stations. A transmission from any one station is broadcast to and received by
all other stations.
• WAN (Wide-Area networks): Wide-Area networks have traditionally been
considered to be those that cover a large geographical area. A WAN consists of a
number of interconnected switching devices, which route data from a source
device to a destination device.
Stated simply wide area networks are the set of connecting links between different
local area networks. These links are made over telephone lines leased from
various telephone companies. Wide area networks can also be created with
satellite links, packet radio or microwave transceivers but these options are
generally far more expensive than leased telephone lines, but they can be used in
areas where leased lines are not available.
The speed offered by wide area networks is much slower than the slowest local
area networks. This makes the sharing of resources over a wide area network
difficult. Generally, wide area networks are used for exchange of short messages
such as e-mail or html traffic.

Advantages of a network
Networks provide the following advantages:
Information sharing
Networks provide the facility of centrally controlling and sharing information.
One or more computers in a network can be used to store the shared
information and have all other computers on the network access that shared
information. The computer or the computers on which the shared information
is stored help centralize the information and maintain control over it. The
computers, which store the shared information, are called servers and special
software and operating systems are used in server computers.
Sharing hardware resources
Computers that are not networked cannot effectively share hardware
resources. For instance, a small office with ten stand-alone computers and one
printer allows only the user with the printer attached to his or her computer to
print. Other users must put their data on floppy disks, transfer it to the
computer with the printer, and print it from there.


A network allows anyone connected to the network to use the printer. Not just
the individual sitting at the computer to which the printer is attached. Network
computers can also share the following devices:
• Fax modems
• Scanners
• Hard disks
• Floppy disks
• Tape backup units
• Plotters
• Almost any other device that can be attached to a computer

3. Sharing software resources

Software resources can be used more effectively over a network. With stand-
alone computers software must be present on each computer’s hard disk,
whether or not that computer is used at that for that task or not. Software costs
can increase for a large number of computers. It is also difficult and time
consuming to install and configure the software individually on every one of
the computers.
With a network, software can be installed and configured centrally on a single
computer, vastly reducing the cost and the work required to make computer
programs available to an organization.
4. Preserving information
A network allows for information to be backed up to a central location.
Important information can be lost by mistake or accident on a stand-alone
computer that has no back up. It is difficult to maintain regular back ups on a
number of stand-alone computers. When information is stored in a central
location then all the important information can be backed up by backing up
the central location (server) only.
5. Protecting information
A network provides a more secure environment for a company’s information. With stand-
alone computers, access to computers often means access to the information on the
computers. Networks provide an additional layer of security by the use of passwords.
Each user can be assigned a different account name and password, allowing network
servers to distinguish among those who need access to have it and protecting information
from tampering from those who do not.
The computer network can also help people communicate. One of the greatest
benefits to the users of networks is electronic mail or e-mail. E-mail is the
fastest possible method of exchanging mails.
Roles of computers in a LAN
There are three roles for computers in a LAN, which are as follows:
• Clients, which use but do not provide network resources.
• Peers, which both use and provide network resources.
• Servers, which provide network resources.


The type of operating system the computer uses determines each of these
computer roles. Servers use network operating system such as Novell Netware or
Windows NT server. Client computers use client operating system, such as MS-
DOS or OS/2 2.0. Peers run peer network operating system such as Windows 95
or Macintosh operating system. Each of this operating system is optimized to
provide service for the role it plays.
Based on the roles of computers attached to them, networks are divided into three
1. Server based or client-server networks contain clients and
servers that support them.
2. Peer-to-peer or peer networks, which have no servers and use
the network to share resources among independent peers.
3. Hybrid networks, which is a client-server network that also has
peers sharing resources.

Server-based networks and domains

Server based networks are defined by the presence of servers on the network
that provide security and administration of the network. Server based
networks divide the processing tasks between clients and servers. Clients also
referred to as front-end request for services, such as file storage and printing,
and servers often called back-end deliver them. Servers are typically more
powerful than client computers.
In Windows NT server based networks are divided into domains. Domains are
collections of networks and clients that share security trust information. The
shared security trust is stored on special servers called domain controllers.
Domain controllers control domain security and logon authentication. There is
one master domain controller called primary domain controller (PDC), which
may be assisted by secondary domain controllers called backup domain
controller (BDC) during busy or when PDC is not available.
None of the users in a domain can access the network resources in a domain
until being authenticated by a domain controller.


Figure 1 showing a client-server network with a shared printer

Advantages of a server-based network
Server-based networks have the following advantages:
1. Strong central security.
2. Central file storage, which allows all users to work from it set of
data and provides easy backup of critical data.
3. Ability of servers to pool available hardware and software,
decreasing overall costs.
4. Optimized dedicated servers, which are faster than peers at
providing resources.
5. Less intrusive security, since a single password allows access to
all shared resources on the network.
6. Freeing of users from the tasks of managing resource sharing.
7. Easy manageability of a large number of users.
8. Central organization, which keeps data from getting lost among

Disadvantages of a server-based network

All the disadvantages of server-based networks are related with its high cost.
Server-based networks are expensive because of the following reasons:
1. Expensive dedicated hardware is required.
2. Expensive network operating system software and client
3. A dedicated network administrator is also usually required.

Peer networks
Peer networks are defined by the lack of central control over the network due to the
absence of servers. Since there are no servers in a peer network, therefore users simply
share disk space and resources such as printers and faxes as and when needed.
Peer networks are organized into workgroups. Workgroups have very little security
control. There is no central login process. If a user has logged into one peer computer on
the network, that user can then any resources on the network that are not controlled by a
specific password.
Access to individual resources can be controlled, if the user who shared a resource makes
the resource password protected. Because there is no central security trust, users will
have to remember individual password, which the user wants to access. This can be quite
Peers are also not optimized to share resources. Generally, when a number of users are
accessing resources on a peer, the user of that peer will notice significantly degraded
performance. Peers also have licensing limitations that prevent more than a small number
of users from simultaneously accessing resources.


Peer networks are recommended for use in small networks where the number of
computers is less than 10 because administration in a peer network is decentralized due to
the absence of server computers.

Figure 2 showing a peer network

Advantages of peer networks

Peer networks have many advantages, especially for small businesses that cannot afford
to invest in expensive server hardware and software:
1. No extra investment in server hardware or software is required.
2. Easy setup.
3. No network administrator required.
4. Ability of users to control resource sharing.
5. No reliance on other computers for their operation.
6. Lower costs for small networks.

Disadvantages of peer networks

Peer networks have the following disadvantages:
1. Additional load on computers because of resource sharing.
2. Inability of peers to handle as many network connections as
3. Lack of central organization, which makes data hard to find.
4. No central point of storage for backing up data.
5. Requirement that users administer their own computers.
6. Weak and intrusive security.
7. Lack of central management, which makes large peer networks
hard to work with.


Hybrid networks
Hybrid networks have all three types of computers operating on them and generally have
active domains and workgroups. This means that while most shared resources are located
on servers, network users still have access to any resource being shared by a peer in a
workgroup. It also means that network users do not have to logon to the domain
controllers in order to access the resources of a peer in workgroup.
Advantages of hybrid networks
Hybrid networks have the following advantages:
1. The advantages of server-based networks.
2. Many of the advantages of the peer networks.
3. Ability of users and network administrators to control security
based on the importance of the shared resource.

Disadvantages of hybrid networks

Hybrid networks share the disadvantages of the server-based networks.

Network topology
The way in which computer connections are made is called the topology of
the network. The physical layout of cabling is called the topology or the
physical shape of network is called its topology. It is important to select the
right topology for the network. Each topology has its own strength and
The four most common topologies are as follows:
i. Bus topology
ii. Star topology
iii. Ring topology
iv. Mesh topology

Bus topology
The bus topology is often used when the network installation is small, simple or

Figure 4 showing a bus network


A single cable connects all the computers in a bus network. Bus is a passive
topology in which computers only listen or send data. They do not take data
and send it on or regenerate it. So if one computer on the network fails, the
network is still up. Since bus is a passive topology therefore it experiences
signal loss.
When a computer sends a signal on a bus network, all the computers receive
that signal, but only one (the one with the address that matches the one
encoded in the message) accepts the information. The rest disregard or ignore
the message.
Only one computer at a time can send a message, therefore the number of
computers attached to a bus network can significantly affect the speed of the
network. A computer must wait until the bus is free to transmit data. These
factors also affect star and ring networks.
Another important issue in bus network is termination. If a signal gets to the
end of a cable, it bounces back on that cable. When a signal echoes back and
forth along an unterminated bus, it is called ringing. To prevent the signal from
bouncing up and down the cable (ringing), devices called terminators have to
be attached to both ends of the cable. A terminator absorbs an electronic
signal and clears the cable this way so that other computers can send data on
the network. Cables cannot be left unterminated in a bus network. Bus
topology network does go down when the cable gets disconnected between one
of the workstations as shown in the Figure.

Figure 3: a cable break can bring down the entire bus network


Advantages of the bus

Bus network has the following advantages:
1. The bus is simple, reliable in very small networks, easy to use, and
easy to understand.
2. The bus requires the least amount of cables to connect the
computers together and is therefore the least expensive topology.
3. It is easy to extend a bus. Two cables can be joined into a one
longer cable with a BNC barrel connector, making a longer cable
and allowing more computers to join the network.
4. A repeater can also be used to extend a bus. A repeater regenerates
the signal allowing it to cover longer distances.

Figure 4: a repeater regenerates the signal

Disadvantages of the bus

Bus topology has the following disadvantages:
1. Heavy network traffic can slow down a bus considerably, because
any computer can transmit at any time and computers on most bus
networks do not coordinate with one another to reserve times to
transmit, a bus network with a lot of computers can spend a lot of
its bandwidth (capacity for transmitting information) with the
computers interrupting each other instead of communicating.
2. Each barrel connecter weakens the electrical signal and too many
may prevent the signal from being correctly received all along the
3. It is difficult to troubleshoot a bus. A cable break or a loose
connecter will cause reflections and will bring down the whole
bus network, causing all network activity to stop.


Star topology
In a star topology, all the cables run from the computers to a central location, where they
are all connected to a central device called a hub.
Stars are used in concentrated networks, where the endpoints are directly reachable from
a central location, when network expansion is expected, and when the greater reliability
of star network is needed.
Each computer on a star network communicates with a central hub that resends the
message either to all the computers (in a broadcast network) or only to the destination
computer (in a switched star network). The hub in a broadcast network can be active or
passive whereas switched star networks have intelligent hubs or switches operating on
Passive hub
The function of a passive hub is simply to receive data from one port of the hub and send
it out to the other ports. For example, an 8-port hub receives data from port 3 and then
resends that data to ports 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. It is as simple as that.
Active hub (Multi-Port Repeaters)
An active hub provides the same functionality of a passive hub with an
additional feature. Active hubs repeat the data while resending it to all of the
ports. By using active hubs you can increase the length of your network. It is
important to remember that UTP (unshielded twisted pair) Category 5 cabling
can be run a maximum of 100 meters. With an active hub, you can run
Category 5 UTP 100 meters on each side of the hub.
Hybrid hub
A hybrid hub is a hub that can use many different types of cables in addition to
UTP cabling. A hybrid hub is usually cabled using thinwire or thickwire
Ethernet. Hybrid hubs are the most common type of hub. Hybrid hubs are used
to interconnect hubs that are further than the 100-meter.

Advantages of star network

i. It is easy to modify and add new computers
to a star network without disturbing the rest
of the network. Computers can be attached
to a star network simply by running a new
line (cable) from the computer to the central
ii. The center of a star network is a good place
to diagnose network faults. Intelligent hubs
(hubs with microprocessors) also provide for
centralized monitoring and management of
the network.


iii. Single computer failure does not bridge down

the whole star network.

iv. Using the hybrid hub provides the facility of

using several cable types in the same

Disadvantages of star network

1. If the central hub fails, the whole
network fails to operate.
2. Many star networks require a device at
the central location to rebroadcast or
switch network traffic.

3. It costs more to cable a star network

because every computer is connected
to the hub with separate cables.

Star Bus
If you replace the computers in a bus topology with the hubs from star topology
networks, you get a star bus topology as illustrated in Figure.

Figure 5: showing a star bus network


Star Ring
Figure displays a star ring, also called a star wired ring. The smaller hubs are
internally wired like a ring and connected to the main hub in a star topology.

Figure 6: showing a star ring network

Ring network
In a ring network each computer is connected to the next computer, with the
last connected to the first.


Figure 7: showing a ring network.

Rings are used in high performance networks, requiring that bandwidth be

reserved for time sensitive features such as support for audio and video, or
when even performance is needed for a large number of clients across the
In a ring topology, all computers are connected with a cable that loops around.
Like a circle that has no start and no end, terminators are not necessary in a
ring topology. Signals travel in one direction on a ring while they are passed
from computer to the next as illustrated in Figure. Every computer checks the
packet for its destination and passes it on as a repeater would. If one of the
computers fails, the entire ring network goes down.

Some ring networks do token passing. A short message called a token is passed
around he ring until a computer wishes to send data to another computer. That
computer modifies the token, adds the destination device’s address and data
and sends it around the ring. Each computer in sequence receives the token
and passes the token to the next computer until either the address enclosed
with the token matches the address of a computer or the token returns to its
origin. The receiving computer sends a message to the source computer
indicating that the message has been received. The source computer then
creates another token and places it on the network, allowing other computers
to capture the token and begin transmitting. The token circulates in the ring
until a computer is ready to send data.
This all happens very quickly. A token can circle a ring 200 meters in diameter at about
10,000 times a second.


Advantages of the ring network

1. Because every computer is given access to the token, no one
computer can monopolize the network.
2. The fair sharing of the network allows the network to degrade
gracefully (continue to function in a useful, if slower manner
rather than fail once capacity is exceeded) as more users are

Disadvantages of the ring network

1. Failure of one computer on the ring can affect the whole network.
2. It is difficult to troubleshoot a ring network.
3. Adding or removing computers disrupts the ring network.

Mesh topology
The mesh topology is distinguished by having redundant (repeated or more
than one links) links between devices. A true mesh configuration has a link
between each device in the network. This gets unmanageable beyond a very
small number of devices. Therefore most mesh networks are not true mesh
networks; rather they are partial mesh networks, which contain some
redundant links but not all.

Mesh installation
Mesh topology networks become more difficult to install as the number of
devices increase because of the sheer quantity of connections that must be
made. A true mesh network of sic devices would require 15connections
(5+4+3+2+1=15). A true mesh topology of seven devices would require 21
connections (6+5+4+3+2+1=21) and so on.

Mesh troubleshooting and reconfiguration

Mesh networks are easy to troubleshoot and are very fault tolerant. Media
failure has less impact on mesh topology than on any other topology. The
redundant links enable data to be sent over several different paths.
Reconfiguration, like installation, gets progressively more difficult as the
number of devices increase.

Advantages and disadvantages of mesh topology

The major advantage of mesh topology is fault tolerance. Other advantages
include guaranteed channel capacity and the facts that mesh networks are
relatively easy to troubleshoot.
Disadvantages include the difficulty of installation and reconfiguration, as
well as the cost of maintaining redundant links.


Signal transmission
Signaling is the way data is transmitted across the transmission medium. Transmission
medium may be guided (cable media) or unguided (wireless media). In both cases
communication is in the form of electromagnetic waves. With guide media waves are
guided along a physical path; examples of guided media are twisted pair, coaxial cable
and fiber optics cable. Unguided media provide a means for transmitting electromagnetic
waves but do not guide them; examples are propagation through air and vacuum.
Whenever data is to be transmitted along media, somehow the data, or the bits and bytes,
must be represented in such a way that the sender can create a message and the
destination device can understand it. This is done by means of encoding or modulation.
The original signal is altered in a certain way o allow it to represent data.
The information or data to be communicated can exist in either of two forms:
• Analog data
• Digital data

Analog data
Analog data takes on continuous values on some interval. For example, voice and video
are continuously changing patterns of intensity. Most data collected by sensors, such as
temperature and pressure, are continuous-valued (digital). Another example of analog
data is an analog clock. It is always changing its representation of time because the
second hand never stops.
The most familiar example of analog data is audio or acoustic data, which, in the form of
sound waves, can be perceived directly by human beings. Frequency components of
speech may be found between 20Hz and 20 KHz.
Another common example of analog data is video. Here it is easier to characterize the
data in terms of viewer (destination) of the TV screen rather than the original scene
(source) recorded by the TV camera. To produce a picture on the screen, an electron
beam scans across the surface of the screen from left to right and top to bottom. As the
beam scans, the analog value changes. The video image, then, can be viewed as a time-
varying analog signal.
Digital data
Digital data takes on discrete values. It represents either one value or the other not
anything in between, for example, on or off, true or false, 1 or 0 and so on. Text and
integers are familiar examples of digital data. Similarly a digital clock does not shoe the
variation of time between minutes. Its either 12:01 or 12:02, not anything in between.
A familiar example of digital data is text or character strings. While textual data are most
convenient for human beings, they cannot, in character from, be easily stored or
transmitted by data transmission and communication systems. Such systems are designed
for binary data. Thus, a number of codes have been devised by which characters can be
represented by a character of bits. The most commonly used code is the ASCII
(American Standard Code for Information Interchange).


In communication systems, data are propagates from one point to another by means of
electric signals. The two signaling methods correspond to the two types of data (digital
and analog):
Digital signaling
Analog signaling

Digital signaling
A digital signal is a sequence of voltage pulses that may be transmitted over a wire
media. Each pulse is a signal element. For example a constant positive voltage pulse may
represent a binary 1, and a constant negative voltage pulse may represent a binary 0.
Digital signals represent discrete states and the state change is practically instantaneous.
Because most computers are inherently digital, therefore most computer networks use
digital signaling. There are many methods of encoding data in a digital signal. These
methods are called encoding schemes. They can be grouped into two general categories,
based on whether the recognition of a given state is triggered by certain voltage level or
by the transition from one state to another:
Current state encoding schemes
In current state encoding strategies, data is encoded by the presence or absence of a signal
characteristic or state. For example, a voltage of +5 might represent a binary 0, while a
voltage of –5 might represent a binary 1.the signal is monitored periodically by network
devices in order to determine its current state. That state then indicates the data. Unipolar
is man example of current state encoding scheme.
Unipolar is an encoding scheme that uses two levels for encoding data. One of the levels
is zero, which could represent a binary 1, and the other level can either be positive or
negative. If a particular implementation of Unipolar is using negative voltages, a –3V for
example, would represent the other value, a binary 0.
Unipolar is not self-clocking, therefore a separate channel has to be used for providing
the clocking.
State-Transition Encoding
State-transition encoding differ from current state methods in that it uses transitions in the
signal to represent data, as opposed to encoding data by means of a certain voltage level
or state. For example a transition occurring from high to low voltage could represent 1,
while a transition from low to high voltage could represent a 0.
Another variation might be that the presence of a transition represents a 1 and the absence
of a transition represents a 0. Manchester is an example of state-transition encoding.


In Manchester encoding, a low to high mid bit transition represents one value, such as a
binary 0 and a high to low transition represents the other, such as the binary 1.Manchester
encoding is used in Ethernet LANs. Due to the mid bit transitions Manchester is self-
Advantages of digital signals
In general digital signals provide the following advantages over analog signals:
1. Fewer errors from noise and interference.
2. Uses less expensive equipment.
On the other hand, one disadvantage is that digital signals suffer from greater attenuation
than analog signals over the same distance.

Analog signals
An analog signal consists of electromagnetic waves. An analog signal is a continuously
varying electromagnetic wave that may be propagated (transmitted) over a variety of
media. An analog signal is always changing and represents all values in a given range.
A wave cycle is the change from high to low and back to high (or low to high and back to
low). Three characteristics are used to measure or describe electromagnetic waveforms:
amplitude, frequency and phase.
Amplitude measures the strength of the signal or the height of the wave. Amplitude is
measured in volts for electrical potential, amps for electric current, watts for electric
power and decibels to indicate the ratio between powers of two signals.
Frequency is the amount of time it takes for a wave to complete one cycle. For example,
if a signal takes 1 second to go from high to low and back to high (in other words
complete one cycle), the frequency of the wave is one. Frequency is measured in hertz
(Hz), or cycles per second.
Phase is a different type of measurement than amplitude or frequency in that it requires
more than one wave. Phase is relative state of one wave, when timing began, relative to
another reference wave. Phase is measured in degrees. The easiest phase shift to spot
visually is that of 180 degrees.
Analog signal modulation
All the three characteristics of an analog wave i.e. amplitude, frequency and phase can be
used to encode digital data in an analog signal. There are three main strategies for
encoding digital data in analog signal. The first two amplitude shift key and frequency
shift key are considered current state encoding schemes and the third strategy is
considered state-transition encoding.
Amplitude shift key (ASK)
Amplitude shift key can be used to encode binary data by varying the amplitude of the
signal. For example a stronger voltage could represent a binary 1 and a weaker voltage
could represent a binary 0.


Frequency Shift Key (FSK)

Frequency shift key, or FSK, is similar to ASK except that frequency not the amplitude
of analog signal is changed to represent digital data. For example a higher frequency
could represent a binary 1 and a lower frequency could represent a binary 0.
Phase shift key (PSK)
Phase shift key uses a transition or shift from one phase to another to encode data. As in
other state-transition encoding schemes, the presence or absence of a transition can be
used to encode data. For example presence of transition can represent a 1 and the absence
of transition can represent a binary 0.
Advantages of analog signals
In general, analog signals provide the following advantages:
1. Less attenuation than digital signals over the same distance.
2. Can be multiplexed to increase bandwidth.
One disadvantage is that analog signals are more prone to errors from noise and
Bit synchronization
There are different ways of encoding data in digital or analog signals. These encoding
schemes rely on changes or modulations to a particular characteristic of the signal. The
receiving network device must then interpret the signal by measuring that changed or
modulated characteristic. Timing is important because the receiver needs to know, when
to measure the signal in order to extract the correct meaning from it.
For two devices to communicate, a high degree of cooperation is required. Typically, data
is transmitted one bit at a time over the transmission medium. The timing (rate, duration,
spacing) of these bits must be the same for transmitter and receiver. The coordination of
signal measurement timing is called bit synchronization. The two major methods of
providing bit synchronization are asynchronous and synchronous.
Asynchronous bit synchronization
The strategy with this scheme is to avoid the timing problem by not sending long,
uninterrupted streams of bits. Instead, data is transmitted one character at a time, where
each character is five to eight bits in length. Asynchronous communication requires that
messages begin with a start bit with a value of binary 0. So that the receiving device can
synchronize its internal clock with the timing of the message. When no data is being
transmitted, the media is idle (the definition for idle is equivalent to the signaling element
of binary 1) and the sender and receiver’s clocks are not synchronized.
Five to eight bits that actually make up the character follow the start bit. Usually, this is
followed by a parity bit, which provides error checking. The parity bit is set by the
transmitter such that the total number of ones in the character, including the parity bit, is
even (even parity) or odd (odd parity). A stop bit indicates the end of the transmission,
which is a binary 1.
Synchronous bit synchronization
With synchronous transmission, a block of bits is transmitted in a steady stream without
start and stop bits. The block may be many bits in length. To prevent timing drift between


sender and receiver, their clocks must somehow be synchronized. The following three
methods are used for synchronous timing coordination.

1. Guaranteed state change

2. Separate clock signals
3. Oversampling

Guaranteed state change

Guaranteed state change describes a method in which the clocking information is
embedded in the data signal. This way, the receiver is guaranteed that transitions will
occur in the signal at predefined intervals. These transitions allow the receiver to
continually adjust its internal clock.
The guaranteed state change is the most common method, and it is frequently used with
digital signals. All the digital encoding schemes, which are self-clocking, use this
method. For example, Manchester encoding uses guaranteed state change.
Separate clock signals
In the separate clock signals method, a separate channel between the sender and receiver
provides the clocking information. Since this method requires twice the channel capacity
of embedding the clock in the data stream, it is insufficient. This method is most efficient
for shorter transmissions such as those between a computer and a printer.
Oversampling is a method in which the receiver samples the signal at a much
faster rate than the data rate. This permits the use of an encoding method that
does not add clocking transitions. If the receiver samples the signal ten times
more quickly than the data rate, out of any ten measurements, one would
provide the data information, and the other nine would determine whether the
receiver’s clock is synchronized.
Signal Transmission
Two techniques are used to transmit the encoded signals over cable: baseband
and broadband. Baseband transmission uses digital signaling and broadband
transmission uses analog signaling.
Broadband LANs are the exception rather than the rule, although many cable
companies are now offering Internet services at extraordinary transmission
speeds. These networks differ from their baseband counterparts in that they
use coaxial or fiber-optic cable to carry multiple channels of data. A single
cable can carry five or six separate communications channels. A broadband
network is analogous to cable TV: One cable brings in many TV channels as well
as networking services.


Broadband systems use analog signaling and a range of frequencies. With

analog transmission, the signals employed are continuous and nondiscrete.
Signals flow across the physical medium in the form of electromagnetic or
optical waves. Broadband technologies use amplifiers to bring analog signals
back up to their original strength.
Most LANs are baseband. A baseband network uses only one channel on the
cable to support digital transmission. Signals flow in the form of discrete pulses
of electricity or light. With baseband transmission, the entire capacity of the
communication channel is used to transmit a single data signal.
As the signal travels along the network cable, it gradually decreases in strength
and can become distorted. If the cable length is too long, resulting in a signal
that is weak or distorted, the received signal may be unrecognizable or
misinterpreted. As a safeguard, baseband systems sometimes use repeaters to
receive an incoming signal and retransmit it at its original strength and
definition to increase the practical length of a cable segment.
Network media types
Computers send electronic signals to each other using electric current, radio waves,
microwaves, or light-spectrum energy. These signals represent network data as binary
pulses. The physical path through which computers send and receive these signals is
called the transmission media.
Transmission media are divided into two categories:
Cable media
Cable media have a central conductor enclosed in a plastic jacket. They are
typically used for small LANs. There are three primary types of physical media
that can be used at the Physical Layer: coaxial cable, twisted-pair cable, and
fiber-optic cable. Transmission rates that can be supported on each of these
physical media are measured in millions of bits per second (Mbps).
Wireless media
Wireless media typically use higher electromagnetic frequencies, such as radio
waves, microwave, and infrared. Wireless media are necessary for networks
with mobile computers or networks that transmit signals over large distances.
Characteristics of media
Each media has certain characteristics that make it suitable for particular
networks. To choose the best type of media, it should be known that how each
medium characteristics relate to the following factors.
1. Cost
The cost of each media type should be weighed against the performance it
provides, and the available resources. For example, it is a common practice
among network integrators to attempt to run a network across unused, left
over telephone cabling. Although this reduces costs, in many cases it can prove


to be a wrong solution. For example, when cable drops of greater than100

meters are required.
Each network installation is different and should have the most affordable
viable solution. When deciding upon a network media type, real needs of the
network should be considered. For example fiber optics is fast, but a network
may not need that much of speed.
2. Installation
The difficulty in installation depends on the individual situation, but some
general comparisons between the media are possible. Some types of media can
be installed with little tools and less training; other requires more training and
knowledge and may be better left to professionals. For example, unshielded
twisted pair cable is easy to install, but fiber optics cable requires professional
4. Bandwidth capacity
The capacity of a medium is usually measured in bandwidth. In networking
terms, bandwidth is measured in mega bits per second (mbps). A medium with
a high capacity has a high bandwidth, and a medium with low capacity has a
low bandwidth. A high bandwidth normally improves the throughput and
performance of a certain media type.
5. Node capacity
Node capacity is the maximum number of nodes that can be attached to a
certain network media before expensive devices such as bridges, routers,
repeaters and hubs must be used to expand the network.
6. Attenuation
Electromagnetic signals tend to become weak during transmission. This is
referred to as attenuation. As the signals pass through the transmission
medium, part of their strength is absorbed or misdirected. This phenomenon
imposes a limit on the distance a signal can travel through a medium without
unacceptable degradation.
When the signal gets weak, it becomes difficult to distinguish between a 1 and
a 0 due to which errors in communication can take place. Because of
attenuation and dispersion, it must be made sure that networks cables do not
exceed the maximum length recommended for that cable.
7.Electromagnatic interference
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) effects the signal that is sent through the
transmission media. EMI is caused by the outside electromagnetic wave
effecting the signal, making it more difficult for the receiving computer to
decode the signal. Some media are more influenced by EMI than others. EMI is
often referred to as noise.
A related concern is eavesdropping, especially if your network data requires a
high level of security. The same characteristic of the cable that allow the
external signal to interfere with the signal in the cable also make it easy for
someone to detect the signal externally, without piercing the cable.


Coaxial (or coax) cable looks like the cable used to bring the cable TV signal to
your television. One strand (a solid-core wire) runs down the middle of the
cable. Around that strand is insulation. Covering that insulation is a wire mesh
and metal foil, which shields against electromagnetic interference, as
illustrated in Figure. A final layer of insulation covers the wire mesh providing
protection and insulation. Coaxial cable is resistant to the interference and
signal weakening that other cabling, such as unshielded twisted-pair (UTP)
cable, can experience. In general, coax is better than UTP cable in connecting
longer distances and for reliably supporting higher data rates with less
sophisticated equipment.

Just because the TV cable is coax does not mean it will work with computer
networks. Coaxial cable comes in different sizes. It is classified by size (RG)
and by the cable’s resistance to direct or alternating current measured in ohms
called impedance, and the attenuation.

The following are some common coaxial cables commonly used in networks:

 50-ohm, RG-8 and RG-11, used for thick Ethernet

 50-ohm, RG-59, used for thin Ethernet

 75-ohm, RG-59 used for cable TV

 93-ohm, RG-62, used for ARC net

Figure 1: Coax cable

Thinnet Coaxial Cable
Thinnet refers to RG-58 cabling, is a flexible coaxial cable about ¼ inch thick.
Thinnet is used for short distance communication and is flexible enough to
facilitate routing between workstations. Thinnet connects directly to a
workstation’s network adapter card using a BNC T-connector (See Figure 8-2)
and uses the network adapter card’s internal transceiver. 10Base2 refers to
Ethernet LANs that use Thinnet cabling.


Figure 2: BNC T-connector

Figure 8-3 illustrates a bus type of network called a local bus. At each end of
the bus there is a terminating resistor, or a terminator, of 50 ohms. Each
workstation’s network adapter is connected to the bus via a single cable,
called a drop, using a BNC T-connector. The network adapter’s internal
transceiver is a device that transmits and receives signals. Even if your network
consisted of only two computers, T-connectors and terminates are still

Figure 3: Bus network

Thicket Coaxial Cable
Thicket coaxial cable can support data transfer over longer distances better
than Thinnet and is usually used as a backbone to connect several smaller
thinnet-based networks. The diameter of a thicket cable is about ½ inch and is
harder to work with than a thinnet cable. A transceiver is often connected
directly to thicknet cable using a connector known as a piercing tap.
Connection from the transceiver to the network adapter card is made using a
drop cable to connect to the adapter unit interface (AUI) port connector.
10Base5 refers to Ethernet LANs that use thicknet cabling. The following Figure
illustrates an AUI connector.


Figure 9: AUI connector

Coaxial cable has the following characteristics.
 Cost
Coax is relatively inexpensive. The cost for thin coaxial cable is less than STP
or category 5 UTP. Thick coaxial is more expensive than STP or category 5 UTP
but less than fiber-optics cable.
 Installation
Installation is relatively simple. With a little practice, installing the connectors
becomes easy, and the cable is resistant to damage.
 Bandwidth capacity
A typical data rate for today’s coaxial networks is 10 Mbps, although the
potential is higher. Coaxial cable’s bandwidth potential increases as the
diameter of the inner conductor increases.
 Node capacity
The specified maximum number of nodes on a thinnet segment is 30 nodes and
on a thicknet segment is 100 nodes.
 Attenuation
Because it uses copper wire, coaxial cable suffers from attenuation, but much
less so than twisted-pair cable. Coaxial cable runs are limited to a couple of
thousand meters.
Coaxial cable is still copper wire and vulnerable to EMI and eavesdropping.
However, the shielding provides a much better resistance to EMI’s effects.

Twisted-pair cable
Twisted pair cable uses one or more pairs of two twisted copper wires to
transmit signals. It is commonly use as telecommunication cable.
When copper wires that are close together conduct electric signals, there is a
tendency for each wire to produce interference in the other. One wire
interfering with another in this way is called cross talk. To decrease the
amount of cross talk and outside interference, the wires are twisted. Twisting
the wires allows the emitted signals from one wire to cancel out the emitted
signals from the other and protects them from outside noise.
Twisted pairs are two color-coded, insulated copper wires that are twisted
around each other. A twisted pair consists of one or more twisted pairs in a
common jacket.
There are two types of twisted pair cables: shielded and unshielded.


Unshielded twisted-pair cable

Unshielded twisted-pair cable consists of a number of twisted pairs with a
simple plastic casing. UTP is commonly used in telephone systems. Unshielded
twisted-pair (UTP) cables are familiar to you if you have worked with
telephone cable.
The electrical industries association (EIA) divided UTP into different categories
by quality grade. The ratings for each category refer to conductor size,
electrical characteristics, and twists per foot. The following categories are
 Category 1 and 2 were originally meant for voice communications and
can support only low data rates, less than 4 Mbps. These cannot be used
for high-speed data communication. Older telephone networks used
category 1 cable.
 Category 3 is suitable for most computer networks. Some innovations
can allow data rates much higher, but generally category 3 offers data
rates up to 16 Mbps. This category of cable is the kind currently used in
most telephone installations.
 Category 4 offers data rates up to 20 Mbps.
 Category 5 offers enhancements over category 3, such as support for fast
Ethernet, more insulation, more twists per foot and data rates of 100
Mbps and higher, but category 5 requires compatible equipment and
more difficult installation. In a category 5 installation, all media,
connectors, and connecting equipment must support category 5, or
performance will be affected.
Data-grade UTP cable (category 3,4, and 5) consist of either 4 or 8 wires.
Network topologies that use UTP require at least two pair wire.
Because UTP cable was originally used in telephone systems, UTP installations
are similar to telephone installations. For a four-pair, a modular RJ-45
telephone connector is used. For a two-pair cable a modular RJ-11 telephone
connector is used.

Figure 10: Unjacketed twisted-pair cable and an RJ-45 connector

UTP’s popularity is partly because UTP was first used in telephone systems. In
many cases a network can be run over the already existing wires installed for
the phone system, at a great savings in installation.
UTP cable has the following characteristics:
 Cost


Except for professionally installed category 5, UTP cabling is the least

expensive medium but requires an additional component, a hub.
 Installation
UTP cable is easier to install than coaxial because you can pull it around
corners more easily. UTP cable’s installation can be done with very little
 Bandwidth capacity
The most common data rate is 10Mbps.
 Node capacity
Since only two devices can be connected together by a UTP cable, the cable
does not limit the number of computers in a UTP network. Rather, the hub or
hubs that connect the cables together limit it.
 Attenuation
UTP is normally restricted to distances of 100 meters.
Twisted-pair cable is more susceptible to interference and should not be used
in environments containing large electrical or electronic devices. In addition,
because copper wires emit signals, UTP is susceptible to eavesdropping.

Shielded twisted-pair cable

Shielded twisted-pair cable differs from UTP in that it uses a much higher
quality protective jacket for greater insulation. Thus, it is less subject to
electrical interference and supports higher transmission speeds over longer
distances than UTP. STP cable has a shield usually aluminum/polyester
between the outer jacket and the wires. The shield makes STP less vulnerable
to EMI.

STP has the following characteristics:

 Cost
STP costs more than UTP and thin coaxial cable but less than thick coaxial and
fiber optics cable.

 Installation
The requirement for special connectors can make STP more difficult to install
than UTP. Because STP is rigid and thick (up to 1.5 inches in diameter), it can
be difficult to work with.

 Node capacity
Since only two devices can be connected together by an STP cable, the cable
does not limit the number of computers in an STP network. Rather, the hub or
hubs that connect the cables together limit it.


 Attenuation
STP does not outperform UTP much in terms of attenuation. The most common
limit is 100 meters.

The biggest difference between STP and UTP is the reduction of EMI> the
shielding blocks a considerable amount of interference. However, since it is
still copper wire, STP still suffers from EMI and is vulnerable to eavesdropping.

Fiber optic-cable
Optical fibers carry digital data signals in the form of modulated pulses of
light. It is enormously more efficient than the other network transmission

An optical fiber consists of an extremely thin cylinder of glass or plastic, called

the inner core that conducts light. A concentric layer of glass, known as the
cladding, surrounds the Inner core that reflects the light back into the inner
core. A plastic sheath surrounds each fiber. The sheath can be either tight or
loose. Tight configuration completely surrounds the fiber with a plastic sheath
and sometimes includes wires to strengthen the cable. Loose configuration has
a space between the sheath and the outer jacket, which is filled with a gel or
other material. There are two fibers per cable—one to transmit and one to
receive. Optical fibers are smaller and lighter than copper wire. One optical
fiber is approximately the same diameter as a human hair.

Figure 12: Fiber-optic cable

Optical fibers may be single-mode or multi-mode. Single-mode fibers allow a
single light path and are typically used with laser signaling. Multi-mode fibers
allow multiple light paths. Single-mode fiber can allow greater bandwidth and
cable runs than multi-mode but is more expensive.


A typical LAN installation at a computer or a network device that has a fiber-

optic network interface card (NIC). This NIC has an incoming interface and an
outgoing interface. The interfaces are directly connected with fiber-optics
cable with special fiber-optics connectors. The opposite ends of the fiber
optics cable are attached to a connectivity device or a splice center.
Optical interface devices convert computer signals into light for transmission
through the fiber. Conversely, when light pulses come through the fiber, the
optical interfaces convert them into computer signals. For single-mode fibers,
light pulses are created by injection laser diode (ILD), which create a higher
quality of light. For multi-mode fibers, light emitting diodes (LEDs) are used.

Fiber-optics cable has the following characteristics:

 Cost
Fiber-optics cable is slightly more expensive than copper cable, but costs are
falling. Associated equipment costs can be much higher than the copper cable,
making fiber-optics networks much more expensive. Single-mode fiber devices
are more expensive and more difficult to install than multi-mode devices.

 Installation
Fiber-optics cable is more difficult to install than copper cable. Each fiber
connection and splice must be carefully made to avoid obstructing the light
path. Also, the cables have a maximum bend radius, which makes cabling much
more difficult.
 Bandwidth capacity
Because it uses light, which has a much higher frequency than electricity,
fiber-optics cabling can provide much higher bandwidths. Current technologies
allow data rates from 100 Mbps to 2Gbps.the data rate depends on the fiber
composition, the mode, and the frequency. A common multi-mode installation
can support 100 Mbps of data rates over several kilometers.
 Node capacity

Since only two devices can be connected together by a fiber-optics cable, the
cable does not limit the number of computers in a fiber-optics network.
Rather, the hub or hubs that connect the cables together limit it.
 Attenuation
Fiber-optics cable has much lower attenuation than copper wires, mainly
because light is not radiated out in the way electricity is radiated from copper
cables. Fiber-optics cable can carry signals over distances measured in
Fiber-optics cable is not subject to electrical interference. In addition, it does
not leak signals, so it is also immune to eavesdropping. This type of cable is


ideal for high-voltage areas or in installations where eavesdropping could be a


Network Models
Connecting two or more computers together to exchange information is a
relatively simple concept, but there is a lot that must happen behind the
scenes to make it a reality. Designing networking into an operating system or
developing a network standard is quite an undertaking.
All the network hardware designers, software programmers, and operating
system architects don’t want to reinvent the wheel each time they develop a
new piece of hardware, have an idea for a new protocol, or want to create the
latest greatest operating system. To facilitate the design and operation of
networking components, network models were created to provide a
framework. All popular, open network standards are based on the models
discussed in this chapter. Understanding these models and how they relate to
various network standards will give you a better understanding of how networks
Network Models
Network models provide a standard framework to use when designing complex
communication systems. Since all networks carry out many of the same
functions, industry players have devised network models to simplify their
Models outline standard issues associated with network design and allow the
designer to solve each issue separately, modularizing the solution. Rather than
developing a solution from top to bottom, from the operating systems to the
interface cards and wires on the network, a network model allows the
designers to relegate different parts of the design to different people. It also
allows them to use a proven design, rather than developing their own.
Keep in mind that a network model is a framework to use, not a concrete
method. It is up to the implementers to decide which parts of the model are
relevant to accomplish their goals.
Network Communication Basics
Network communication has one very simple goal: to send 1s and 0s from one
computer to another, quickly and without error. While this may seem easy
enough from the surface, look under the covers and you’ll see it is a complex
process. Network communications have to take into account many variables to
work reliably.
Representing and Transmitting Data
When actually sending information across a network, there are many ways to
send the data. Computer data is nothing but 1s and 0s, and it is always sent
one bit at a time. But different computers look at those 1s and 0s in


completely different ways. It is up to the network standard to define the

correct way to encode data, transmit it, and then decode it at the other end.
There are some basic rules for interpreting those bits and bytes.
Computers can start at either end of a binary number when transmitting it
across a network. This is known as bit order. When a computer starts with the
first digit of a binary number, it is using the most significant digit. If it starts
at the last digit, it is using the least significant digit.
Larger binary numbers consist of two or more bytes. Just as a computer can
start at either end of a single binary number, it can also start at either end of a
group of bytes. This is known as byte order. IBM-compatible PCs contain little
endian processors, which expect the last, or least significant byte of data to
appear first. Apple Macintoshes, on the other hand, contain big endian
processors, which expect the first, or most significant, byte to appear first.
When transmitting data on a network, there may be many different kinds of
computers listening. It is necessary to define whether the first or last bit is
most significant. Otherwise, different computers could interpret the same data
in very different ways.
End-to-End and Point-to-Point Transmission
Some networks are only concerned with end-to-end communication, meaning
the two ends of the conversation deal with each other directly. This is best
when timing is of great importance (take your telephone, for instance).
But maintaining connections between computers is not an efficient use of
network resources. It would be like having the phone off the hook all day long,
when you actually want to talk for only a few minutes a day.

For this reason, many computer networks use point-to-point transmission

methods, where there may be one to dozens of points between the two ends
(email is a good example of this). Each point is only concerned with
transferring data from itself to the next point downstream. After that, it is up
to the next point to ensure that the data continues on its way to the final
destination point. After data passes through a point, that point is available for
other network chores, even though the data may not have reached its
destination yet.
Fragmenting Data, Sequencing, and Reliability
Seldom is the data you want to send across the network a single manageable
unit. In fact, as computers and networks get faster and have larger capacities,
there is more data to send! Since most data can’t be handled in its entirety for
transmission, most networks chop or fragment large pieces of data into more
manageable units.

When data is fragmented, it is important to ensure that all the pieces make it
to the other end in the right sequence. If they are not in order, it is sometimes


possible to resequence the data into the right order. If the data can’t be put
back into the right order, then it must be resent. Steps must be taken before
transmission to label data fragments before sending them so the receiving end
can figure out what order they belong in.
Error Checking
We all know that we don’t live in a perfect world, and imperfection carries
straight down into computer networks. Imperfections in network transmissions
can result in corrupted, useless data on the receiving end. When sending data
across a network, error checking can be used to ensure that the data received
is identical to the data that was sent originally. Error checking can happen at
many different levels of the communication process.
A basic method of checking for errors with transmitted data is the use of a
parity bit. Before sending data, the numbers of individual bits that make up
the data are counted. If there are an even number of bits, a parity bit is set to
one and added to the end of the data so that the total of the bits being sent is
odd. If there are an odd number of bits, the parity bit is set to zero and added
to the end. The receiving computer adds up the bits received and if there are
an even number of bits, the computer assumes that an error has occurred. The
parity method is not foolproof, since if an even number of bits is corrupted,
they will offset each other in the total.

The checksum is a form of error checking that simply counts the number of bits
sent and sends this count along. On the receiving end, the bits are once again
counted and compared with the original count. If they match, it is assumed the
data was received correctly.

Another type of error checking is the cyclical redundancy check (CRC). This
involves running a byte or group of bytes through a mathematical algorithm to
produce a single bit or byte to represent the data (a CRC). The CRC value is
transmitted with the data. When the data reaches its destination, the receiver
runs it through the same mathematical algorithm. The results are compared
with the original CRC, and if they match, the receiving computer assumes that
data is correct. If they do not match, the receiver must discard the data and
try again.

Sometimes the integrity of the data is checked at each step along the way
(connection-oriented). At other times, there is no error checking on the
network (connectionless); instead, the error checking is left up to the software
sending the data.
OSI Model
The most common network model used in PC networks is the Open Systems
Interconnect (OSI) model. The OSI model was developed from the late 1970s to
its current form in the mid-1980s by the International Standards Organization
(ISO). Both Microsoft, Novell, and all the major PC networking giants use the
OSI model as a basis for network design.


The OSI model consists of seven layers. They cover all aspects of networking,
from the topmost issues (“How do I print to the network printer?”) all the way
down to the lowest technical issue (“What voltage at what frequency do I apply
to which wire?”). The seven layers help break down the aspects into
manageable units that interact with one another. The layers are, from top to
Data Link
A common mnemonic to help you remember the layers from top to bottom is,
“All People Seem To Need Data Processing.” There are many more phrases,
and you can always invent your own.
All the layers in the OSI model work in a hierarchy. If a computer is sending
data, each layer receives the data from the layer above it, performs any
applicable work on that data, and adds on its own information regarding that
data. The layer then sends the data on down to the next layer.
When a computer is sending data, each layer receives the data from the layer
beneath it, processes it, and sends it to the layer beneath it. The opposite
occurs on the receiving computer. In Figure 2-1, the Application Layer on
Computer 1 communicates with the Application Layer on Computer 2, going
down the hierarchy, and then back up.

Figure 1: Communicating through the hierarchy of OSI layers


As data is sent down the hierarchy, each layer appends its own information to
the data for processing by the same layer on the destination computer. Each
layer adds a header as the data travels down through the OSI layers, and the
associated layer on the receiver removes the headers.

Figure 2-2 demonstrates how each layer adds information to the data as it is
sent, and conversely how that information is removed as the data is received.

Figure 2: Headers added removed by OSI layers

The seven layers can be broken into two groups to help further understand
their basic functions. The first three layers (Application, Presentation, and
Session) are primarily used by applications. The four lower layers (Transport,
Network, Data Link, and Physical) are concerned with data transport, or simply
getting data from one network device to another.
Functions of the Layers
Each layer has specific functions that it defines. Some functions are defined in
more than one layer (such as error control and flow control). While this seems
redundant, it does not mean that these functions must be implemented at both
layers, no matter what. Don’t forget the OSI is a model. One designer may use
error control at one layer; another may use it at a different layer. It all
depends on the designer’s goals.

While it is very easy to memorize the various layers of the OSI model from top
to bottom, it is a bit easier to learn about what these layers do by taking a
bottom-to-top approach.
The bottom layer of the OSI hierarchy is only concerned with moving bits of
data onto and off of the network medium. The Physical Layer does not define
what that medium is, but it must define how to access it. This includes the
physical topology (or structure) of the network, the electrical and physical
aspects of that medium used, and encoding and timing of bit transmission and


Data Link
The Data Link Layer handles many issues for communicating on a simple
network (The Network Layer discussed in the next section performs the
functions necessary to communicate beyond a single physical network.) This
layer takes the frames generated by the upper layers and takes them apart for
transmission. When receiving messages from the network, it reassembles this
information back into frames to send to the upper layers. This layer actually
does a lot more than just break apart and put together frames.
The 802 model breaks the Data Link Layer into two sub layers: logical link
control (LLC) and media access control (MAC). The LLC layer starts and
maintains connections between devices. When sending data from your
workstation to a server on the same network segment, it is the LLC sublayer
that establishes a connection with that server. The MAC layer allows multiple
devices to share the media. Most LANs have more than one computer (of
course!), and the MAC sublayer determines who may speak and when.

Another important job of the Data Link Layer is addressing. The MAC sublayer
maintains physical device addresses for communicating with other devices
(commonly referred to as MAC addresses). Each device on the network must
have a unique MAC address, otherwise the network will not know exactly where
to send information when a node requests it. For example, how would the
postal service know where to send your bills without your address?

Most network interface cards (NICs) in a computer provide the MAC address as
an address burned into the interface card. Some older network cards even
required an administrator to set the address manually using switches. Even
with a permanent MAC address burned into the card, some protocols allow you
to define this address via software, although this is unusual.
The MAC address is used to communicate only on the local network. When
transmitting to a server on the same LAN segment, the protocol uses the MAC
addresses to communicate between the two computers. If the server is located
on another network segment across a WAN, the MAC address of the nearest
router (routers are discussed later in this chapter) is used to send the
information, and it is up to the router to send the data further on.
Finally, the Data Link Layer manages flow control and error correction
between devices in a simple network. In more complex internetworks, it is up
to the Network Layer and other upper layers to perform these functions.
The Network Layer is one of the most complex and important ones. The
Network Layer manages addressing and delivering packets on a complex
internetwork. Devices known as routers, which utilize routing tables and
routing algorithms to determine how to send data from one network to
another, join internetworks.


The most obvious example of an internetwork is the Internet. The Internet is

very large, covering the entire globe, and consists of an almost every
conceivable type of computer, from palmtops to mainframes.
In order to operate on an internetwork, each network that participates must be
assigned a network address. This address differentiates each network from
every other network that forms the internetwork. When sending data from one
network to another, the routers along the way use the network addresses to
determine the next step in the journey.

The Network Layer also allows the option of specifying a service address on the
destination computer. All modern operating systems (UNIX, Windows NT, OS/2,
etc.) run many programs at once. The service address allows the sender to
specify which program on the destination the data being sent is for. Service
addresses that are well defined (by networking standards, for example) are
called well-known addresses. Service addresses are also called sockets or ports
by various protocols.
The Transport Layer works hard to ensure reliable delivery of data to its
destinations. The Transport Layer also helps the upper layers (Application,
Presentation, and Session) communicate with one another across the network
while hiding the complexities of the network.
The Transport Layer also interacts with the Network Layer, taking on some of
the responsibilities for connection services.
One of the functions of the Transport Layer is segment sequencing. Sequence
switching is a connection-oriented service that takes segments that are
received out of order and resequences them in the right order.

Another function of the Transport Layer is error control. It commonly uses

acknowledgements to manage the flow of data between devices. Some
Transport Layer protocols can also request retransmission of recent segments
to overcome errors.
The Session Layer manages dialogs between computers. It does this by
establishing, managing, and terminating communications between the two
computers. There are three types of dialogs that the Session Layer uses.
Simplex dialogs allow data to flow in only one direction. Since the dialog is one
way, information can be sent, but not responded too, or even acknowledged.
An example of a simplex dialog is a Public Announcement (PA) system in a large
building. Announcements can be made, but the PA system doesn’t allow any
response or acknowledgement.


Half-duplex dialogs allow data to flow in two directions, but only one direction
at a time. With half-duplex dialogs, replies and acknowledgements are
possible. But this isn’t always the most efficient method. If an error is detected
early on in transmission, the receiver must wait for the sender to finish before
any action can be taken. A CB radio is an excellent example of a half-duplex

Full-duplex dialogs let data flow in both directions simultaneously. This method
allows more flexibility, but also requires more complex communication
methods. A telephone is a prime example of full-duplex communication.
When a session is established, there are three distinct phases involved.
Establishment is when the requestor initiates the service and the rules for
communication are established. Once the rules are established, the data
transfer phase may begin. Both sides know how to talk to each other, what the
most efficient methods are, and how to detect errors, all because of the rules
defined in the first phase. Finally, termination is when the session is complete
and communication ends in an orderly fashion.
It is up to the Presentation Layer to make sure that data sent by the
Application Layer and received by the Session Layer is in a standard format. As
discussed earlier, different types of computers can interpret identical data

A network standard defines the proper format for any data as it is transmitted.
When the Presentation Layer receives data from the Application Layer to be
sent over the network, it makes sure the data is in the proper format and if
not, it converts the data. On the flip side, when the Presentation Layer
receives data from the Session Layer from the network, it makes sure the data
is in the proper format, and once again converts it if not.
The Application Layer provides a consistent, neutral interface to the network.
Many people confuse the Application Layer with an actual software package,
such as a word processor. This is not the case. The Application Layer provides a
consistent way for an application to save files to the network file server or
print to a network printer.
An example of this is how Windows 95 makes it just as easy to print to a
network printer, as it is to print to a locally attached printer. This is the
Application Layer in practice.

The Application Layer also advertises a computer’s available resources to the

rest of the network.


Relationships Between Protocols and the OSI Layers

The various layers of the OSI model provide a basic framework for
implementing real protocol stacks. You may notice some redundancies,
however. This is not by accident. It is up to the designers to decide where
certain functions make the most sense to deal with. Never forget that the
model is a framework, not a concrete method of implementation!
The OSI Model and Addressing
In any network consisting of more than two computers, there needs to be a way
to identify individual computers on the network. Unless you always want every
computer on the network to use any data you are sending, you must be able to
single out the computer you are trying to communicate with. This requires
network addressing. The two layers of the OSI model that largely deal with
addressing are the Data Link and Network Layers.
The Data Link Layer is only concerned with addressing on the local network.
The MAC sublayer defines physical device addresses (or MAC addresses), which
are used to uniquely identify computers on a network. These unique addresses
can be used to identify the individual computers.
The Network Layer deals with addresses on a larger scale, handling
internetworking between multiple networks. The Data Link Layer handles
addressing individual computers, whereas the Network Layer handles
addressing for individual networks. Once the destination network is reached,
the addressing at the Data Link Layer once again comes into play in order to
find the exact computer the data is headed for.
Devices that Communicate at Each OSI Layer
There are many devices used on a network beyond our computer. Repeaters,
bridges, and routers are devices used to link individual LANs together to form
larger internetworks. When comparing the layers of the OSI model to the roles
each of these devices, note that each one operates within a specific layer of
the OSI model.
Physical Layer Devices
The Physical Layer is only concerned with moving the bits and bytes of data
onto the network. This layer does not deal with any addressing issues. It gets
data onto and off of the wire. Repeaters operate at the Physical Layer of the
OSI model. They simply listen to all network traffic on one port and send it
back out through one or more ports, extending smaller networks into a larger,
single network, as illustrated in Figure 2-3.


Figure 3: Repeater
linking two physically
separate networks
A repeater simply
receives frames,
regenerates them, and
passes them along. It
performs no processing
of the frames or the
data they contain.
Because it is not
performing much
processing, repeaters
are simpler in design, and therefore less expensive than other devices used to
connect networks, like bridges and routers.

Figure 2-3 shows a repeater linking Network 1 to Network 2. Any data sent out
on Network 1 is picked up by the repeater and sent out over Network 2 with no
changes. The opposite happens when transmitting on Network 2. As far as all
the devices on each network are concerned, there is only one network.
Relation to OSI Layer Functions
Because repeaters operate at the Physical Layer, they do not need any
addressing data from the frame. Repeaters do not even look at the frames they
are forwarding, passing along even damaged frames. This can be especially
problematic if one segment malfunctions and begins a broadcast storm. The
repeater forwards all those erroneous broadcasts faithfully!
Repeaters are primarily used to extend a LAN beyond physical limitations. In a
manufacturing setting, a computer on the plant floor may be further from the
rest of the network than the physical limits of the media allow. Inserting a
repeater between the computer and the rest of the LAN could allow the
computer access to the network.

Repeaters can also join networks that use the same frame type but different
types of cabling. Suppose the Marketing and Accounting departments each have
their own LAN, both using the 802.3 frame type. Marketing uses twisted-pair
Ethernet cabling and accounting uses thin coaxial cabling. If the two
departments want a simple, inexpensive way to join their LANs, they can use a
repeater, despite the different cabling. If Marketing uses a Token Ring network
scheme and Accounting uses Ethernet, they cannot use a repeater because of
the different frame types.


Data Link Layer Devices

The Data Link Layer deals with addressing on the local physical network.
Bridges operate at the Data Link Layer. They use the Data Link Layer and its
physical addressing to join several networks into a single network efficiently.
Bridges join two or more network segments together, forming a larger
individual network. They function similarly to a repeater, except a bridge looks
to see whether data it receives is destined for the same segment or another
connected segment. If the data is destined for a computer on the same
segment, the bridge does not pass it along. If that data is going to a computer
on another segment, the bridge sends it along.
Bridges use a routing table to determine whether data is destined for the local
network or not. On a bridge, the routing table contains MAC addresses. Each
time the bridge receives data; it looks in its routing table to see whether or not
the data is destined for a node on the local network. If it belongs to the local
network, it does not forward the data. If it is not destined for the local
network, it looks in the routing table to determine which physical network the
destination address resides on, and sends the data out onto that network.

Bridges can not join dissimilar networks. If you have an Ethernet network and a
Token Ring network, you cannot use a bridge; you must use a router. However,
a bridge can join networks that use the same frame type but different media,
just like a repeater.
Relation to OSI Layer Functions
Bridges work with the MAC sublayer of the Data Link Layer. Remember that the
Data Link Layer is concerned with communicating on the local network only.
Bridges use information from the MAC sublayer to make decisions on whether a
packet is destined for the same network or another network. The MAC address
is used by bridges to determine first if the destination is local or not, then to
choose which connected network it must go to.
Bridges are usually used to minimize network traffic. As a company’s network
grows, it becomes busier and slower. An inexpensive way to minimize these
growing pains is to segment the LAN using bridges.
Suppose the Marketing and Accounting departments described previously,
linked via a repeater, continue to grow. Suddenly you, the network
administrator, are receiving complaints from both departments that the
network is very slow. A quick and simple way to fix this problem is to replace
the repeater with a bridge. Now, anytime someone in the Marketing
department accesses the Marketing server, their network traffic won’t cross
over the Accounting department’s network. But if that same person wants to
send email to accounting, that message will go right through.


Bridges are especially useful if many departments are connected together. If

the manufacturing and shipping departments also want to be connected to
Marketing and Accounting, repeaters are an inefficient way to add them in.
Bridges can minimize traffic and allow the network to continue to grow,
without “growing pains.”
Network Layer Devices
The Network Layer is concerned with network addressing for larger networks
that consist of many physical networks, often with multiple paths between
them. Routers operate at the Network Layer. They use the addressing
information provided at the network level to join the many networks together
to form an internetwork.
Routers divide larger networks into logically designed networks. Routers may
seem a lot like bridges, but they are much smarter. Bridges cannot evaluate
possible paths to the destination to determine the best route. This can result in
inefficient use of network resources. Bridges also cannot use redundant paths.
While two bridges can connect two networks, they risk sending packets in an
endless loop between the two networks. This behavior eventually saturates the
network, rendering it unusable.
The drawback to a router’s inherent intelligence is their speed. Because they
process so much information, routers tend to be slower than bridges.
Relation to OSI Layer Functions
Routers operate at the Network Layer of the OSI model. The Network Layer
provides addressing for internetworks, and routers use this addressing
information to determine how to pass along packets of data. Because routers
operate at the Network Layer, they can link different physical network
Routers minimize traffic on internetworks, much like a bridge, but they are
used to make large internetworks much more efficient. As data travels through
an internetwork, it only knows its destination. It has no idea how to get to that
destination. Routers look at the data’s destination and determine the next
step. Routers can evaluate the best route to send the data along based on
traffic and the speeds of various links.


Figure 4: Routers in a network

Figure 2-4 shows how routers send data between a workstation and a server
across a relatively simply internetwork. When the workstation sends its data to
the server, it first goes to Router A, then on to Router B. At this point, Router B
must make a choice. There are two links to Router C and the network that the
server resides on. One link is a fast T1, the other a comparatively slow modem
link. Router B must decide which link to use given the current conditions, and
send the data down that link. Router C receives the data and drops it onto the
server’s local network.

Table 2-2 shows all the OSI layers and the various functions they perform.
Application • Provides services on network, such as file/print, email, databases, etc.

• Not an actual end-user application on a computer but provides services to


• Advertises available services to the network.

Presentation • Deals with syntax for communication between two computers.

• Converts system data from the Application Layer to machine-independent

format for the lower layers.

• Receiver must convert machine-independent data to the local system’s

format. This can include:

• Bit-order translation – Either most significant digit (MSD) or least

significant digit (LSD)

• Byte-order translation – Determines which end of multi-byte values arrives

first. Little endian takes least significant byte first, big endian takes most


significant byte first.

• Character code translation – Different binary schemes for

characters (ASCII vs. EBCDIC)

• File syntax translation – File formats that differ (Mac file forks vs.
PC flat files)


• Manages dialogs between two computers by establishing, managing, and terminating

There are three forms of dialogs:
· Simplex – One-way data transfers

• Half-duplex –Two-way data transfers, but data can only flow in one direction at a time

• Full-duplex – Two-way simultaneous data transfers

• A session is a formal dialog between a requestor and provider and must have
three phases:

• Connection establishment – Requestor initiates service and communication rules are

agreed to.

• Data transfer – Due to rules, each side knows what to do, operates efficiently, and
detects errors.

• Connection release – When session is done, dialog is terminated in an orderly fashion.


• Can implement procedures to ensure reliable delivery of messages to destinations.

• Allows upper layers to communicate with network while hiding network complexities.

• Takes on some responsibility for connection services and interacts with Network
Layer’s connection-oriented and connectionless services.

• Segment sequencing – Connection-oriented service that resequences segments for


• Error control – Detects and takes care of corrupted, duplicated, or lost segments.

• End-to-end flow control – Uses acknowledgements to manage flow between two

devices. Some Transport Layer protocols can request retransmission of recent segments.



• Handles addressing and delivering packets on complex networks.

• Uses logical network addresses to route packets.

• Supports service addresses to specify a channel to a specific process on a destination.

• Universally define service addresses are called well-known addresses.

• Packet switching – Messages divided into smaller packets that contain addressing
information, and can be sent through switches rapidly without being stored. Two types of
packet switching:

• Datagram – Each packet treated independently, and they can travel different paths
getting to destination.

• Virtual Circuit – A well-defined path through the network is negotiated, and remains in
effect until communication is done. Network looks like a physical circuit, even though
none exists.

• There are two different modes of communicating across the network:

• Connection-oriented – Error correction and flow control provided at internal nodes

along path.

• Connectionless – Internal nodes along path do not deal with error correction and flow

• When two networks are too different; a gateway is used to connect the

• Router and brouters operate at Network Layer.

Data Link
• Assembles and disassembles frames for transmission and reception.

• IEEE 802 breaks it down to two sublayers:

• Media access control (MAC) – Allows multiple devices to share media.

• Logical link control (LLC) – Starts and maintains links between devices.

• Controls transmission method (synchronous/asynchronous) used to access


• Maintains physical device addresses (MAC addresses).

• Provides flow control and error control for single links between devices.


• Flow control – Determines how much data to send to avoid overwhelming


• Error control – Detects errors in received frames and requests retransmission.

• Bridges operate at Data Link Layer.

• Concerned with transmitting and receiving bits. Doesn’t define media, but defines:

• Physical structure of network (physical topology)

• Mechanical and electrical specifications for using medium

• Bit encoding and timing

• Repeaters operate at Physical Layer

Network Interface Cards

Network interface cards provide a hardware interface between physical
transmission media and the networked computer. They also provide a software
interface that uses network protocols to format, transmit, and receive
information across the network. This chapter will focus on the hardware
considerations for choosing a network interface card, as well as the software
issues surrounding network drivers. It will also include practical information on
installing and troubleshooting network interface cards.
Role of NICs
Network interface cards (NICs) are known by a variety of names including
network adapters or cards, network adapter boards, and media access cards.
Regardless of their name, they share a common set of functions in enabling
computers to communicate across a network. Network interface cards are
often defined by:
The type of Data Link protocol they support, such as an Ethernet adapter or
a Token Ring adapter
The type of media they connect to
The data bus for which they were designed
In order to interact with the computer where it is installed, the network
adapter, like any other peripheral device, must have a software driver
installed. This driver allows the operating system and higher level protocols to
control the functions of the adapter.
The NIC performs the following functions:
Translates data from the parallel data bus to a serial bit stream for


transmission across the network.

Formats packets of data in accordance with protocol.
Transmits and receives data based on the hardware address of the card.
Translating from Parallel to Serial
The network adapter, like any device installed in a system, is attached to the
CPU via a parallel data bus, such as an ISA or PCI bus. These parallel buses
move data quickly between devices internal to the system. Network
transmission, on the other hand, relies on a serial data stream in order to
transmit messages. Therefore, all data coming into the network card from the
bus must be transformed into a serial data stream before transmission.
Formatting Packets
Data transmission within a network interface card has two characteristics. The
first of these is the transmission of binary bits across the network medium. A
Physical Layer protocol defines the voltages and signal standards used to
represent binary data on the network. This is built into the hardware on the
card. In addition, the Data Link protocol supported by the card defines a
packet structure for sending and receiving data. This structure includes fields
for addressing and control information as well as the data. The card and its
software driver implement this function.
Transmitting and Receiving Data
The primary function of the network adapter is to transmit and receive data
between other network interface cards across the network media. It does this
based on the fact that each card has an address, known as the MAC (media
access control) address or hardware address. This address is generally built into
the card by the manufacturer, and includes portions that identify the brand, as
well as uniquely identifying the card itself. Each card is designed to pick out
messages on the network destined for their hardware address as well as
broadcast messages.

Network Connectivity
Expansion within a single network is called network connectivity. To expand a
single network without breaking it into parts, one of the following devices can
be used:
A repeater is probably one of the conceptually simplest devices on a network.
Repeaters, although not necessary for functionality, enable your network to
span a greater distance.
All transmission media attenuate (weaken) the electromagnetic waves that
travel through them. Attenuation, therefore limits the distance any medium
can cover. Repeaters allow you to extend your network beyond the physical


limits of the cabling. A repeater accomplishes this simply by repeating packets

from one side of the wire to another while increasing or boosting the signal.

Repeaters fall in two categories: amplifiers and signal-regenerating repeaters.

Amplifiers simply amplify the entire incoming signal. Unfortunately, they
amplify both signal and noise. Signal-regenerating repeaters create an exact
duplicate of incoming data by identifying it amidst the noise, reconstructing it,
and retransmitting only the desired information. This reduces noise.
OSI Physical Layer
A repeater resides within the Physical Layer of the OSI Model, meaning that it
does not look within the packets; the repeater simply receives packets on one
side, and sends them on another side. A repeater never filters packets; all
packets are always repeated.
Hubs are one of the most important components of a network. They are the
central location that all cabling must connect to in most topologies. (See Figure

Figure 1: A hub is connected to computers in a local network using cables

Role of Hubs in Topologies
Most network topologies can use for a hub in one way or another. The most
prominent user of hubs is the 10BaseT topology. 10BaseT is entirely dependent
on hubs for the infrastructure of the topology.
The function of a passive hub is simply to receive data from one port of the hub
and send it out to the other ports. For example, an 8-port hub receives data
from port 3 and then resends that data to ports 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. It is as
simple as that.


Active (Multi-Port Repeaters)

An active hub provides the same functionality of a passive hub with an
additional feature. Active hubs repeat the data while resending it to all of the
ports. By using active hubs you can increase the length of your network. It is
important to remember that UTP (unshielded twisted pair) Category 5 cabling
can be run a maximum of 100 meters. With an active hub, you can run
Category 5 UTP 100 meters on each side of the hub.
3) Hybrid
A hybrid hub is a hub that can use many different types of cables in addition to
UTP cabling. A hybrid hub is usually cabled using thinwire or thickwire
Ethernet, which is discussed later in this chapter. Hybrid hubs are the most
common type of hub. Hybrid hubs are used to interconnect hubs that are
further than the 100-meter limitation of 10BaseT.
A bridge is a network connectivity device that connects two different networks
and makes them appear to be one network. The bridge filters local traffic
between the two networks and copies all other traffic to the other side of the
Network Segmentation
A bridge is a simple way to accomplish network segmentation. Placing a bridge
between two different segments of the network decreases the amount of
traffic on each of the local networks. Although this does accomplish network
segmentation, most network administrators opt to use routers or switches,
which are discussed later in the chapter.

Bridges segment the network by MAC addresses, as illustrated in Figure 10-2.

When one of the workstations connected to Network 1 transmits a packet, the
packet is copied across the bridge as long as the packet’s destination is not on
Network 1. The bridges uses the bridge routing table to calculate which MAC
addresses are on which network.


Figure 2: Bridges segment the network by MAC Address

Source Routing and Spanning Tree Bridges
Of the two primary types of bridges, source routing and spanning tree bridges,
there is no major difference except for their applications. The end result of
both types of bridges is the same, even though the mediums that they are used
on are different. Spanning tree bridges are used to connect rings in a Token
Ring network and source routing bridges are used for Ethernet networks. (See
Figure 10-3.)
Building a Bridge Routing Table
Most bridges maintain their own bridge routing table dynamically and do not
require that the administrator manage it unless he/she wishes to make a
manual change to the table. To make a manual change to your bridge routing
table, refer to the instructions that accompanied your bridge.

Figure 3: A bridge connects two local networks.

OSI Data Link Layer
A bridge is constantly tracking the destination MAC addresses of all packets
that it receives. If the packets are determined to be ones that should cross the


bridge, it passes them across the bridge. Since the only information the bridge
knows about the packet is the MAC address of the destination, the bridge is
said to reside in the Data Link Layer of the OSI Model.
Switches have become an increasingly important part of our networks today. As
network usage increases, so do traffic problems. As a systems engineer, you
will be faced with this problem on an almost continuous basis. A common
solution to traffic problems is to implement switches.
Multi-Port Bridging
Switches also referred to as multi-port bridges, automatically determine the
MAC addresses of the devices connected to each port of the switch. The switch
then examines each packet it receives to find its destination MAC address. The
switch then determines which port the packet is destined for and sends it out
to that port only.
Network Performance Improvement with Switching
The primary benefit of implementing switching technology is that network
performance will be improved a great deal. It is important to note that if you
are not having traffic problems on your network, adding a switch will probably
not change your network’s performance. If your network is having traffic
problems, switching, when implemented properly, can greatly increase your
Switching is a fairly involved process, as illustrated in Figure 10-4. Computer A
transmits a packet to Computer C. The packet enters the switch from Port 1
and then travels a direct route to Port 3. From Port 3 the packet is transmitted
to Computer C. During this process, Computer B is unaware of the traffic
between Computer A and C because there was a direct path within the switch
and no shared bandwidth.

Figure 4: In a switch, data enters at Port 1 and is sent to Port 3 without

sharing bandwidth with Computer B.


OSI Data Link Layer

Switches operate by knowing the destination MAC address and allowing the
packet to use the direct route within the switch from the source port to the
port that the device with the destination MAC address is connected to. The
only information that a switch needs to operate is the MAC address, so the
switch is said to reside in the Data Link Layer of the OSI Model.
Routers operate similarly to switches. The major difference is that a router is
not quite as intelligent as a switch. Where a switch calculates which devices
are connected to each port, a router receives packets from one side and
determines if the destination is on the other side of the router. If the
destination of the packet is on the other side of the router, the packet is
forwarded. If the destination is not on the other side of the router, it is then
forwarded to the next router.
Internetworks and Subnets
Rather than dealing with the MAC address of the destination of each packet, a
router is concerned with the IP address of the packet (see Figure 10-5). The
router determines if the packet’s destination is on one side of the router by
using a subnet mask and the network address. The network address is the first
IP address available on the subnet. The router then uses the logical AND
operation to calculate which addresses it will allow to pass through. For
example, a router with a network address of and a subnet mask of allows all IP addresses between and to
be routed. All other addresses are forwarded to the IP address defined as the
default route. IPX is also capable of being routed in a similar fashion.
Figure 5: When routers are used to connect multiple networks, they only
allow packets destined for the local network to enter the local network
Routing Protocols and Routing Tables
Routers keep a table of the routes to each possible destination. Most routers
allow you to manually modify this routing table. Many older routers require you
to follow their procedures and manually enter the routes to possible
destinations. This usually consists of entering a network ID, subnet mask, and
gateway address for each router port to be used.
Some of the more advanced routers incorporate Routing Information Protocol
(RIP). RIP automatically calculates the quickest route to a destination and
enters it into the routing table. RIP-equipped routers can automatically
determine a new route to a destination if a router that it had previously been
using is no longer available.
A brouter is a hybrid of both a bridge and a router and has a connection to
more than two networks. When the brouter receives a packet from one


segment of the network, if it determines that the packet is not destined for an
IP address located on the other side of the router, it is sent to the gateway
address. If the destination IP address is connected to one of the other ports of
the brouter, the packet is bridged to the other port instead of being routed. If
a brouter determines that a packet received from one segment is not destined
for a port of the brouter it will be routed. If the packet is destined for a port of
the brouter, it will be bridged to that port.
Bridging vs. Routing Protocols
Routing protocols are quite different from bridging protocols. Bridging
protocols are designed to combine packets from multiple physical networks and
consolidate them into one virtual network. Routing protocols are designed to
separate a physical network into multiple virtual networks.

The manner in which bridging and routing protocols operate also varies. A
bridging protocol allows all traffic to cross that is not destined for the local
network. A routing protocol allows traffic to cross that is destined for networks
on the other side of the router.
OSI Network Layer
Routers and brouters operate by using the IP address to calculate if the packet
should be routed. Since the IP address is needed, routers and brouters are said
to reside in the Network Layer of the OSI Model.
A gateway is a device that enables two dissimilar systems that have similar
functions to communicate with each other.
Connecting Dissimilar Systems
Dissimilar systems are defined as two systems that have similar functions, but
are unable to directly communicate with each other. For example, two Token
Ring networks and Ethernet qualify under this definition.
In Figure 10-6, the PC on the left is able to use data and applications that are
on the Mainframe on the right. As packets cross the gateway from the
Mainframe to the PC, the Gateway converts them to a format that is
understandable by the PC. The opposite operation occurs when the PC sends
packets to the Mainframe. In this figure, PC and Mainframe are dissimilar

Figure 6: Gateways connect two dissimilar systems and allow them to share
Wide Area Networks (WANs)


One of the best known wide area networks (WANs) is the Internet. It grew out
of ARPANET, a government defense research project for connecting sites in
order to share radar data. The WAN technology that grew from there is
different than traditional local area network (LAN) technology because it must
allow for data transfer over a distance that is greater than the limitations of
LAN physical media. For instance, the limit of 100BaseT over Category 5 cabling
is 100 meters. This removes the possibility of connecting a New York office to a
Los Angeles site via 100BaseT over Category 5 cabling.

A good way to think about WANs is to consider them to be the connections

between two or more LANs. WANs are prevalent in business data
communications if that business encompasses more than one office. Even if a
business does not have more than one office, it may need to communicate with
other businesses in order to conduct daily operations. This may range from a
business connecting to a bank in order to have online accounting, to the bank
providing data and applications to customers via kiosk ATMs.
Many businesses are using the Internet to conduct part or all of their daily
business. The Internet is the world’s largest WAN. With the Internet’s
popularity increasing by leaps and bounds, being able to connect to, use, and
troubleshoot an Internet connection may soon be a requirement for all network
systems engineers.
Carrier Services and Modems
Imagine dialing into the Internet. What has to take place in order to get from a
PC to the Internet?
First, there has to be an Internet access point. For people who dial in, this is
the computer that is connected to the modem they are connecting with. It is
also known as a network node or a host or a remote access server, because of
its place on the Internet and its function. The generic term for both the PC and
for the remote access server is data terminal equipment (DTE).

Second, there has to be communications equipment at both the Internet access

point and at the PC. This can be an ISDN codec, an analog modem, or WAN
equipment such as a CSU/DSU. The communications hardware is generically
called data communications equipment or data circuit-terminating equipment
(DCE). Figure 11-1 illustrates the use of DTEs and DCEs to connect to the


Figure 1: Connecting to the Internet using DTEs and DCEs

Third, the DTE communicates via the DCE to the remote DTE via its DCE. In
order to communicate, there must be a common language. This language is
considered a carrier signal when using an analog line. A carrier signal is an
analog signal whose characteristics—the frequency, the amplitude, and/or the
phase—have been modulated to represent data. Analog signals continuously
vary in a wavelike course. Digital signals, on the other hand, are either
positive, zero, or negative at a certain voltage; there is no smooth transition
between a positive and negative electromagnetic signal. Figure 11-2 illustrates
these differences.

Figure 2: Analog and digital signals

Fourth, the carrier signal must have some path to travel between the DCEs.
Transmission media, or the carrier, provides the path. A Carrier Service
provides the transmission media. Carrier services are traditionally telephone
companies. They offer their existing telephone wires as the path between the
DCEs. Keep in mind, though, that a carrier service can also be a satellite
service using wireless transmission, a cable company using their existing cable
network, or even a network using another media perhaps installed just for data

When using an analog line, the DCE must translate the digital data to an analog
signal. The digital signal must be modulated before it is sent over the wire.
When it gets to the remote DCE, the analog signal must be demodulated into a
digital signal that the remote DTE will understand. The word modem,
therefore, is shorthand for Modulator Demodulator.
Analog Carriers
Analog carriers are traditionally telephone company lines, or the Public
Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Carrier services, other than the
telephone company, that offer data networks usually create digital networks


also called public data networks (PDNs). The types of WAN connections that
may use the PSTN include:
Dial-up lines
Leased lines
Switched 56
T-1 to T-3 lines (known as T-carrier lines)
Of these WAN connection types, the dial-up lines are usually analog. Leased
lines, switched 56, T-carrier, and ISDN connections are usually digital.
Dial-up or Switched lines
Why are dial-up lines also switched lines? Because the public telephone
network is a switched service, and dial-up lines use those wires and circuits to
create a connection. The telephone network is set up so that a signal travels to
the local Central Office, one of which is usually located somewhere within a
few miles of any telephone. A pair of wires that create the electrical current
needed for stable communication wires each phone to the central office. The
area code and the exchange of the phone number identify which central office
is used. The exchange is the first three numbers of the seven-digit phone

A dial-up line is a communications circuit that is established by a circuit-

switched connection using PSTN.
Leased Lines
A leased line is similar to a dial-up line. However, it is reserved by the carrier
service for private use by the person or business leasing the line. Leased lines
are dedicated, as opposed to switched, and always follow the same path.
Leased lines use a digital signaling scheme, rather than analog. This makes
them capable of greater speeds than analog systems. Leased lines generally
incorporate high-grade copper or fiber-optic media. This makes them capable
of higher speeds than ISDN, which typically runs over standard-grade telephone
Although there can be more complicated configurations, the simplest leased
line is a permanent line leased from the carrier service (usually the telephone
company) between two sites that need to share data. A customer service
unit/data service unit (CSU/DSU), which is similar to a modem, is placed at
each end of the leased line. The CSU/DSU, which is the DCE, is fed data from
the DTE, which then transmits it across the leased line to its CSU/DSU partner,
which then decodes the data and forwards it to its attached DTE.

Leased lines can use different framing protocols. Framing protocols occur at
the Data Link Layer of the OSI protocol stack. Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP),
discussed later in this chapter, is a typical leased line protocol, as is High-level
Data Link Control (HDLC), which is not discussed.


The first disadvantage of leased lines is cost. The line is being paid for all the
time, whether or not data may be flowing between the two sites, and whether
or not full bandwidth is being utilized. There is a certain point of bandwidth
utilization called the break-even point. It is the point midway between where a
dial-up line is cheaper than a leased line and where a leased line is cheaper
than a dial-up line. Figure 11-3 illustrates this cost comparison.

Figure 3: Comparing the costs of a leased line vs. a dial-up line

The second disadvantage of leased lines is scalability. Each link is direct

between two sites. In order to increase connected sites, there have to be
multiple CSU/DSUs, multiple router ports, and multiple leased lines. This lack
of scalability also affects costs.
Digital Carriers
Leased lines are an example of digital carriers. There are several categories
related to bandwidth. The smallest size is 64 Kbps, and is called a DS-0 line.
DS-0 stands for Digital Signaling 0 and is the base unit for all greater sized
digital lines. Think of a DS-0 as a framing specification used in transmitting
digital signals over a single channel at 64 Kbps on a T1 facility, where the T1
facility would have a total of 24 channels.
Table 11-1 lists the T-carrier rates and their characteristics.
Name Digital Signal # Of Bandwidth Media
frame channels Size
64 DS-0 1 64 Kbps Copper
T-1 DS-1 24 1.544 Mbps Copper
T-2 DS-2 96 6.312 Mbps Copper
T-3 DS-3 672 44.736 Mbps Fiber or other


T-4 DS-4 4032 274.76 Mbps Fiber or other
Table 1: T-Carrier Rates and Media
AT&T developed T-1 for digital transmission. It uses time-division multiplexing
to allow 24 separate channels to combine for a total bandwidth of 1.544 Mbps.
Each channel is 8 bits wide. T-1 adds a synchronization bit every 193 bits. This
is the clocking mechanism for the data flow. T-1 is not dependent on the
physical media used.

Since it uses time-division multiplexing (TDM), the T-1 carrier signal is sampled
and interleaved, and then converted into a digital data stream. TDM is a
synchronous system that interleaves fragments of slower channels into a single
faster channel. TDM is the only system that can be used on a baseband line.
Figure 11-4 illustrates a four-channel TDM system.

Figure 4: Four-channel time-division multiplex system

T-1 is similar to the European standard E-1, which is same in structure but
maxes out at 2.108 Mbps.
A common configuration for a leased line is called fractional T-1. This is a
combination of multiple 64-Kbps channels within the 24 available channels of a


T-1 line. Most common are 128-Kbps or two channels, and 256-Kbps or four
T-3 is larger than T-1. As a result, it is more expensive. T-3 transmits DS-3-
formatted data at 44.736 Mbps over optical fiber or microwave lines. The DS-3
is the framing specification. T-3 is the equivalent of 672 DS-0 channels.
Switched 56
Switched 56 is the low end of WAN point-to-point services. Switched 56 is a
something of a misnomer. Although it is commonly sold as 56 Kbps, some areas
offer 64 Kbps, although that is more common in Europe. The reason that US
services offer 56 Kbps is due to the management overhead of the line. It is also
a digital service.
Switched 56 is called that, since it is an on-demand dial-up line. It is still based
on a T-1 channelized system. When the customer dials up the line, one of the
channels is switched into the customer’s link. This means that the costs are
based on the actual usage. Most carrier services offer a dedicated 56-Kbps
service, as well. Switched 56 is an excellent backup link, providing fault
tolerance for other higher speed lines.
ISDN means Integrated Services Digital Network. Originally created by the
International Telecommunications Union Telecommunication Standardization
Sector (ITU-T), ISDN is a project to upgrade the existing PSTN to be able to run
digital services and provide digital connectivity between video, terminals,
telephones, computers, voice mail, etc. Because it uses the existing telephone
network, ISDN uses copper wire.
ISDN components are illustrated in Figure 11-5 and include:
TE1 (terminal equipment type 1) ISDN terminals
TE2 (terminal equipment type 2) Terminals that predate ISDN.
NT1 (network termination type 1) Equipment that connects the subscription
four wires to the two-wire local loop, is provided by the customer in the US,
but provided by the carrier in other countries.
NT2 (network termination type 2) Performs protocol functions of the OSI
protocol stack Data Link and Network Layers.
TA (terminal adapter) Used with a TE2 in order to adapt it to ISDN, and can
be either internal or external.


Figure 5: Integrated Services Digital Network

The ISDN structure consists of the following digital channels, also called bit

A analog telephone, 4 kHz

B digital data, 64 Kbps
C digital out-of-band, 8 or 16 Kbps
D digital out of band, 16 or 64 Kbps with 3 sub channels: s for signaling, t for
telemetry, and p for packet data
E digital channel for internal ISDN signaling, 64 Kbps
H digital channel at 384, 1536, or 1920 Kbps
The ITU-T ISDN project defined three standard channel combination services:

Basic Rate (BR) 2 64-Kbps B channels and 1 16-Kbps D channel

Primary Rate (PR) 1 64-Kbps D channel, with 23 B channels or 30 B channels
in Europe
Hybrid 1 A channel and 1 C channel
The Basic Rate is the most common configuration for end users connecting to a
Remote Access Service or Internet connection. The Primary Rate is more
common for business use in site-to-site communications.

Table 11-2 lists the carrier types and their access method and bandwidth.
Carrier Type Switched or Dedicated Bandwidth
Dial-up lines Switched Up to 56 Kbps
Leased lines Dedicated 56 Kbps to 1.544 Mbps
Switched 56 Switched 56 Kbps


T-1 Dedicated 1.544 Mbps

T-3 Dedicated 44.736 Mbps
ISDN – Basic Rate Switched 2 64-Kbps B channels
(with 1 16-Kbps D
channel) reaching a
general rate of 128 Kbps
ISDN – Primary Rate Switched 23 64-Kbps B channels
and 1 64-Kbps D channel
= 1.544 Mbps.
Table 2: Carriers, Access, and Bandwidth
Modems are the communications equipment used to modulate digital data into
an analog signal to be sent across a standard telephone wire. In a
modulation/demodulation system, the CPU feeds digital data, in the form of 1s
and 0s, into the modem. The modem analyzes the data and transforms the
digital signals to analog signals, which can be sent over a phone line. Another
modem then receives these signals, converts them back into digital data, and
forwards that data to the receiving CPU.
Modems do have different sub functions, beyond the modulation/demodulation
function. They can:
Compress data
Handle error correction
Control the flow of data
Buffer the data to prevent scrambling
Data compression is used within a modem to send the same amount of data
using fewer bits. Although data compression algorithms are somewhat
complicated, they are akin to shorthand, where fewer pen strokes equal the
same amount of words.
Error detection is the method by which modems verify that the information
sent to them has been undamaged during the transfer. In order to correct
errors, they must be detected first.

Error-correcting modems break incoming data into frames. Then a checksum is

attached to each frame and the formatted data is forwarded to the receiving
modem. The receiving modem verifies the checksum to ensure it matches the
information sent. If not, the receiving modem notifies the sending modem and
then the entire frame is resent. Though error correction slow down data
transfer on noisy lines, it provides greater reliability. As with data
compression, for error correction to be used, both modems must support the
same error correction standard.


Flow control was a necessity once modems with differing capabilities needed to
communicate with each other. Since one modem in a connection was capable
of sending data much faster than the other could receive, flow control was
created to be able to pause the sending modem while the receiving modem
caught up. The varieties of flow control are:
Software XON/XOFF flow control
Hardware request to send/clear to send (RTS/CTS) – flow control
With software flow control, when the receiving modem indicates that a pause
is needed, it sends a certain character, usually Ctrl-S. Since the Ctrl character
is typically sent, these commands are sometimes called control indicators.
When the receiving modem is ready for more data, it sends another control
indicator, such as Ctrl-q. The advantage of software flow control is that it can
use a serial cable with only three wires. One disadvantage is that line noise can
sometimes inadvertently create control indicators, pausing or restarting
transmissions at inappropriate times. Another disadvantage lies in the fact that
since binary files contains control characters, they should never be sent using
software flow control.
Hardware, or RTS/CTS, flow control bases its pause and resume features on
whether the RTS or CTS wires in the modem cable send a bit of data. In the
case of an internal modem, this feature is within the modem hardware itself.
Hardware flow control tends to be faster and more reliable than software flow

Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitters (UARTs) are the hardware

pieces designed for the computer to send information to a serial device. A
modem is a serial device, as well as a mouse, and other input/output devices.
The UART is an integrated circuit (chip), which adapts parallel input into serial
output. Parallel data transmission occurs across several pins at one time—the
data travels “in parallel.” Serial data transmission occurs in a series across one
pin (or two for duplex). The CPU feeds the data into the UART’s buffers. The
buffers use first in, first out (FIFO) scheduling so that the first data to enter
the buffer is the first to leave. Without FIFO, information would be scrambled
when forwarded through the modem.

National Semiconductor created the first UART called INS-8250. This was
upgraded to a faster 16450. Both of these UARTs had a one-byte buffer, which
meant that if information was traveling too fast for the CPU to handle, it was
overwritten. Because of today’s faster modem speeds, the UART was upgraded
to 16550A. The 16550 have a 16-byte buffer, so that a busy CPU can catch up
after dealing with other tasks.
Internal vs. External
An internal modem and an external modem perform the same function. An
internal modem is either built into the motherboard of a PC or laptop, or the
internal modem is an additional adapter card within the computer. If the


computer being used is older, say a 386, the serial port UART is most likely the
16450, which means that the PC can only handle up to a 2400-bps external
modem connected to that serial port. A UART is built into an internal modem,
so using a faster modem requires an internal modem, or upgraded serial port
card. Another advantage to internal modems is that they are cheaper, since
there are no case or indicator lights that have to be included in the product.

The advantages of using an external modem lie in the ability to use the
external serial port, and not have to use up an additional interrupt within the
PC. An external modem is easily installed, and can be transferred between PCs
with little or no trouble. If an external modem gets “stuck” in communications,
perhaps due to a software flow control error; it is easily reset since it has its
own on/off button. Rebooting the PC is the only way to reset an internal
modem. An external modem usually has indicator lights that can help
troubleshoot communication problems.
Connectors: RJ-11 and Serial
A connector is the part of a cable that plugs into a port or interface in order to
connect one hardware device to another. Connectors are either males where
they consist of one or more exposed pins, or female where they contain
openings into which the male connector can be inserted.
A standard PC serial port is called an RS-232. The Electronics Industry
Association (EIA) developed that standard for serial communication. In an RS-
232 serial port, one pin is used for transmitting data and another for receiving
data. There are other pins used to establish and maintain communications
between the two serial devices. Standard serial connectors come in two sizes:
25 pins or 9 pins. Each pin represents a type of data signal to be sent. Because
the type of data is restricted to certain pins, a cable must be wired so that it
transmits or receives the same data across that pin as is expected.
Table 11-3 lists the RS-232 pin assignments.
9-Pin 25-Pin Symbol Signal sent on that pin Input/Output
Connector Connector data
1 8 DCD Data carrier detect Input
2 3 RX Receive data Input
3 2 TX Transmit data Output
4 20 DTR Data terminal ready Output
5 7 Signal ground
6 6 DSR Data set ready Input
7 4 RTS Request to send Output
8 5 CTS Clear to send Input
9 22 RI Ring indicator Input
- 1 Protective ground


- 9 Transmit current loop + Output

- 11 Transmit current loop - Output
- 18 Receive current loop + Input
- 23 Data signal rate indicator Input/Output
- 25 Receive current loop - Input
Table 3: RS-232 Pin Assignments

As long as the basic 9-pin signals are maintained, serial cables can be wired
that have a 25-pin connector at one end and a 9-pin connector at the other.

The RS-232 cable connectors are meant for communication between two serial
port devices: a modem and a serial port. The connector between the modem
and the telephone line is different. It is usually an RJ-11 connector, although
more often upgraded telephone wiring is now using an eight-wire RJ-45 female
connector that is backwards compatible for a male RJ-11 connector. This is
being done in anticipation for further services to become available via the
telephone network.
The RJ-11 connector is shorthand for Registered Jack-11. It is either a four-
wire or six-wire connector used primarily to connect telephone equipment in
the United States. Modems connect with an RJ-11 cable into the RJ-11 female
port that leads to the PSTN. In the standard six-wire configuration, the wires
are configured as
Pin Function
2 Ground
3 Data Out
4 Ground
5 Data In
6 CTRL Out
Modem Standards- Hayes and ITU V Standards
The ITU-T is responsible for the V series of modem standards for modulation,
data transfer, and data compression protocols. In the early days of modems,
Bell created modulation standards, such as Bell 103 and Bell 212A, that were
prevalent in the United States. The ITU-T (which was the CCITT at the time)
was responsible for creating international standards.
Some V series modem type descriptions are followed by a “bis” or “ter.” That
suffix represents a secondary or tertiary V. series standard. For instance when
comparing a V.32 modem with a V.32bis modem, the bits per second rate is
significantly different; V.32 = 9600bps and V.32bis = 14,400bps, even though
the base modem standard is the same.

The MicroCom Networking Protocol (MNP) is also prevalent in modems. Rather

than a series, MNP offers various classes of standards offering error detection


and error correction abilities. MNP class 5 has been popular in the past because
it offers data compression, effectively doubling the modem bps rate.

Standards created by an organization are called de jure standards. Standards

that are adopted due to their prevalence, convenience, or the lack of other
standards are called de facto standards.
The Hayes modem standards are de facto standards. In the early days of
modems, Hayes had the largest presence in the industry. Any standards that
they developed, they applied to all their modems. As a result, many software
programs were written that accommodated the Hayes modem standards, such
as AT commands. AT commands are the control characters sent to a Hayes
standards-based modem. In order to compete, other manufacturers had to
make their modems compatible with the software programs by incorporating
AT commands, as well as making sure their modems could communicate with
the Hayes modems, by utilizing the Hayes software XON/XOFF flow control
V Standard Transmission
V.22 1200 bps
V.22 bis 2400 bps
V.32 4800–9600 bps
V.32 bis 4800–14400 bps
V.34 2400–28800 bps
*V.fc 2400–28800 bps
* 2400–28800 bps
*V.fc and are
not ITU-T
they are
Table 4: V Standards and Transmission Rates
Baud Rate vs. BPS and Compression
Baud stands for bits of actual usable data. Baud represents the number of
carrier signal level changes per second within the modem. Each signal level
contains one or more bits of information. BPS is the acronym for Bits Per
Second, where bit is a unit of data representing a 0 or 1, and is the rate of data
flow across the telephone wire. Since baud rate and BPS used to be the same
number, they can be confused. But the baud rate can be a different number
than BPS if the number of signal level changes within a modem is different than
the number of bits transmitted.


In order to go beyond a 2400 bps rate—which is approximately the bit rate

maximum of the telephone line—modems had to be able to encode more than
one bit of data in every signal transition. The maximum bit rate of the
telephone wire can be higher, but usually 2400 bps is about right. By encoding
more bits of data per signal transition, the modem may work at 2400 baud, but
be transmitting 28,800 bits per second. This is a form of modem data
compression called DCE-to-DCE compression.
There are two types of compression: DCE-to-DCE compression and DTE-to-DTE
compression. DCE-to-DCE compression takes place between two modems. Both
modems must support modem compression in order for any compression to take
place. In modem compression standard v.42 bis, a 4:1 ratio of compression is
achievable. In modem compression standard MNP5, a 2:1 ratio of compression
is available. Data travels from the DTE to the DCE where it is compressed and
sent to the remote DCE where it is expanded and then forwarded to the
receiving DTE.
DTE-to-DTE compression occurs between the remote access server and the
remote node. Both the remote access server and the remote access client must
support DTE-to-DTE compression. Here, the data is compressed at the DTE, and
then sent to the DCE where it is forwarded to the remote DCE and then to the
remote DTE, where it is expanded. Note that in Windows NT Remote Access
Service, a higher data compression ratio of 8:1 is achievable if both RAS
compression (DTE-to-DTE) and v.42 bis compression (DCE-to-DCE) are available
and enabled.
Asynchronous vs. Synchronous
Asynchronous and synchronous are two different techniques for data

In asynchronous transmission, data is coded into a series of pulses, including a

start bit and a stop bit. A start bit is sent by the sending modem to inform the
receiving modem that a character is to be sent. The character is then sent,
followed by a stop bit designating that the transfer of that bit is complete.

Asynchronous transmission manages the data flow by transmitting each

character separately, with its own separate synchronization information. A
start bit and a stop bit frames each character, which consists of a single byte
of data, and is sent as a single transmission string. A byte of data equals eight
bits. The start and stop bits synchronize the data transmission between the
sending and receiving DCEs.

Asynchronous transmission is a mature, simple technology, using common and

inexpensive hardware (modems). It has the disadvantage of having a high
overhead, comprising between 1/5 and 1/3 of the bandwidth used. As a result,
data transfers are slow. Also, asynchronous transmissions are subject to errors
due to the nature of the legacy telephone wires that are typically used. Figure


11-6 illustrates how a single character is transmitted using asynchronous


Figure 6: Asynchronous transmission of a single character

In synchronous data transmission, data is sent via a bit stream, which means
that a group of characters is sent at once without start and stop bits
interrupting them. For synchronous communication, the groups of characters
are gathered into a buffer of the DCE, where the DCE formats the data to be
sent as a stream. To prevent garbling, synchronous DCEs must be in precise
synchronization. They accomplish this by sending control codes, called
synchronization, or SYN characters. Once the DCEs are in synchronization, they
transfer the bit stream of data.

Synchronous transmission sends both text and binary data the same as
asynchronous, but it uses bandwidth much more efficiently since it can send
large blocks of data instead of a single character at a time. In order to be able
to transmit data in blocks, there must be some method of synchronizing the
transmission between the sending and receiving DCEs without framing each
character. Either the synchronizing signal can be contained in the frame around
the data, or the synchronizing signal can be constantly transmitted separately.
The SYN character is one method of accomplishing this.

Synchronous transmission is more efficient and much faster than asynchronous

transmission. Due to the fact that it is newer and more complex, the hardware
tends to be more expensive than asynchronous. Figure 11-7 illustrates two
synchronous transmission modes: one with SYN characters interleave with the
data and one with SYN characters transmitted separately.


Figure 7: Two synchronous transmission modes: interleaved and separate

SYN clocking
Analog vs. Digital Modems
As discussed previously, an analog signal refers to information being presented
continuously, while digital refers to data defined in individual steps. Analog
information is usually in the form of a sound wave. As a result of the
continuity, any interference or noise on the line can interrupt, change, or
damage the signal being sent. Digital data is less affected by such interference.

As discussed previously, modem stands for modulator/demodulator. The

function of the modem is to modulate digital signals into analog signals in order
to send them out over an analog line, as well as to demodulate analog signals
into digital signals in order to feed them to the CPU. It is always considered a
DCE (Data Communications Equipment or Data Circuit-Terminating Equipment).
Another term to be aware of is the codec, which stands for coder/decoder. A
codec is somewhat the opposite of a modem. It changes data into a digital
signal to go across a wire, and decodes it back to analog. A time-division
multiplexor is an example of a codec. A codec is sometimes be referred to as a
digital modem.
Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) and Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) are most
commonly used over analog lines, but also over ISDN and dedicated high-speed
lines, to provide a remote node-to-network connection. Some routers use these
protocols to connect two networks from router to router.
SLIP is a legacy UNIX communications standard. It provides a remote node
connection between a workstation and a network or in router-to-router
network connections. SLIP does not have the encryption capability of PPP.


Neither does it automatically negotiate the connection when connecting to a

network. Instead, user intervention is required. SLIP works at the Physical
Layer of the OSI stack, so does not provide either error control or security.
Windows NT RAS (Remote Access Service) can be configured as a client for
SLIP, but cannot be a server for SLIP.
PPP is the successor to SLIP. Again, it provides remote node-to-network or
router-to-router connections over telephone lines and modems, ISDN, and high-
speed links. PPP improved on SLIP by functioning at both the Physical and Data
Link Layers, thereby being capable of providing error control, security,
dynamic IP addressing, and support for multiple protocols. Within the Data Link
Layer, the MAC (media access control) portion handles the physical addressing
of the device, and the LLC (logical link control) portion handles error control
for connection services. Figure 11-8 illustrates where PPP and SLIP fit in the OSI
protocol stack.

Figure 8: Where PPP and SLIP fit with the OSI protocol stack
The PPP frame consists of 6 fields: Flag, Address, Control, Protocol, Data, and
Frame Check Sequence. The Flag field is one byte 01111110, indicating the


beginning or ending of a frame. The Address field is a single byte 11111111,

which is the standard broadcast address since PPP does not allocate specific
station addresses. The Control field is a single byte 00000011 that sets up
transmission of data in an unsequenced frame. The Protocol field is two bytes
identifying the protocol. The Data field is a variable-length datagram for the
appropriate protocol of the data being sent. Maximum size for the Data field is
usually 1500 bytes, but the Data field can be a different size depending on the
manufacturer. The Frame Check Sequence field, used for error handling, is
either two bytes, or four bytes if set up for better error detection.
Figure11-9 shows the format of a PPP frame.

Asynchronous Protocols
Asynchronous protocols generally use digital signals transmitted without
precise clocking. Hence, the term asynchronous. The signals may have
differing frequencies or phase relationships, such as video or data. The data
variation and the lack of clocking forces the need for another method of
control in order to manage errors.
Traditional asynchronous transmissions, such as modem-to-modem dialogs
over analog lines, encapsulate each character with start and stop bits in
order to control the transmission. This is a tremendous overhead, making
poor use of bandwidth.
Newer asynchronous protocols have different methods of data transmission
in order to increase speed and reduce overhead. For instance, ATM utilizes
a cell-switching technique in which a fixed 53-byte cell length and cell relay
reduces transit delays. ATM was developed to transmit voice, video, or data
easily over high speeds.
Tunneling and Virtual Private Networks
Tunneling a protocol refers to the ability to route a protocol, such as IPX or
AppleTalk, over a network that uses a different protocol, such as TCP/IP.
The result is a connection between the two networks that uses the
network’s native protocol, be that IPX or AppleTalk, but which is
encapsulated and transmitted in a TCP/IP packet format. Note that IP traffic
can also be tunneled through an IPX or AppleTalk network, and AppleTalk
can be tunneled through an IPX network and vice versa as long as the
appropriate tunneling software is available and configured to format the


Figure 16: IPX protocol tunneled through an IP network

In Figure 11-16, the network workstations are able to communicate using
IPX, even though the link connecting the two networks uses only TCP/IP.
This is accomplished through the tunneling software, which in this case, is
running on the routers since it encapsulates the IPX frames in IP packets.
The data leaves the workstation with the IPX destination address of the
workstation on the other network. The path in IPX is known to be through
the router, so the IPX data arrives there. The router knows that it is
forwarding this data over an IP network, and adds an IP encapsulation
packet using the destination router as the final IP destination address. The
IP network reads the IP header and knows to send the data to the
destination router. Once at the destination router, the IP encapsulation is
discarded and the IPX frame is then forwarded through the network using
the IPX destination address to the receiving workstation.

In response to public demand, Microsoft created Point-to-Point Tunneling

Protocol (PPTP). This protocol tunnels the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)
over an IP network to create a network connection. The primary use for this
capability is to use the Internet as a network connection.

Like a standard tunnel system, PPTP encapsulates packets of information

(IP, IPX, or NetBEUI) within IP packets for transmission through the Internet.
At the destination, the IP packet encapsulation is discarded, and the original
packets are forwarded to their appropriate destinations. Both encryption
and authentication are used in PPTP. Encryption of the transmitted data


protects the data. Authentication is used to verify the identity of the user in
order to grant access to network resources.

Once connected via PPTP, a remote user has a virtual connection to the
network. It is transparent in that the end user may use network resources
just as if that user were connected directly to the network. The use of
PPTP, in effect, creates a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This is sometimes
referred to as an ExtraNet, and is a form of an Extranet, but is not limited
to WWW or FTP applications. Unlike the Internet, a VPN is not wide open,
even though it uses the Internet as a backbone network. It is, in fact,
virtually private. VPN can be accomplished using tunneling protocols, since
the data is encapsulated the way it is, it is secure.
Protocols Appropriate to Different Server Types
Depending on the server that is providing remote access services, the
protocol will vary. Generally, the two types of servers traditionally used by
an Internet Service Provider (ISP) are UNIX servers or Windows NT Servers.
It is possible that other servers are used, as well.
Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) is a legacy remote node protocol offered
by UNIX servers. Because of its prevalence, SLIP is still used. SLIP works at
the Physical Layer only of the TCP/IP protocol stack.

Using Dial-Up Networking in the current version, or the RAS client in older
versions, Windows NT can connect to SLIP servers as a client only. Neither
Windows NT Server, nor Windows NT Workstation can be configured as a
SLIP server.
Windows NT PPP Servers
Windows NT Remote Access Service offers PPP as the default connection
type for remote nodes. PPP is protocol independent and can be used with
any of Windows NT’s native protocols: NetBEUI, NWLink, and TCP/IP. PPP is
also the default client type for Dial-Up Networking and for the older RAS
client in older versions of Windows NT.
Protocols Common to Internet Service Providers
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) commonly use PPP as the protocol for dial-
up connections. They may also use SLIP for dial-up connections if the ISP’s
servers are UNIX based.

In order to create a connection to an ISP using Windows 95 or Windows NT,

TCP/IP and Dial-Up Networking/Remote Access Service client should be
A local area network can connect to an ISP using a leased line or other high-
speed access connection type. In that scenario, TCP/IP is routed directly
over the line to the Internet.


Both Windows NT and Windows 95 support all the protocols needed to

connect to an ISP, including their native 32-bit implementations of TCP/IP,
and PPP or the SLIP client. In addition, both operating systems offer basic
FTP and Telnet clients, which are used to download files and access
Internet Telnet servers.
Table 11-5 lists the common server types for asynchronous protocol types.
Network Operating System Function Protocol
Windows NT Server PPP
Windows NT Client PPP
Windows NT Client SLIP
Table 5: Matching Asynchronous Protocols and Common Server Types