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Creation of a world standard for bit rates above 140 mbps. To enable synchronous higher order digital multiplexing.

More flexibility for networking. Direct access to tributaries Transport of both American (T) and European (E) PDH tributaries. Can be used in the three traditional telecommunications areas: long-haul networks, local networks and loop carriers

Mapping A process used when tributaries are adapted into VCs by adding POH information Aligning This process takes place when a pointer is included in a Tributary Unit (TU) or an Administrative Unit (AU), to allow the 1st byte of the VC to be located Multiplexing This process is used when multiple low-order path signals are adapted into a higher-order path signal, or when high-order path signals are adapted into a Multiplexing Section

The first entry point of the PDH signal. It is the basic packing unit for tributary channels, is filled with the information from a plesiochronous signal (PDH). The process is called as mapping. Justification facilities are provided to adapt plesiochronous tributaries to the synchronous network clock. Each container is suitable for the rate of the signal inputted into it and for the structure of the synchronous frame.

Fixed stuffing bits are inserted for synchronous tributaries. Signal is prepared so as to enter into the next stage i.e. virtual container. As per recommendation G.709, C-11, C-12,C-2,C-3 & C-4 are the containers for PDH bit rates

Each container is added with control information known as Path Over Head (POH), which helps the service provider to achieve end-to-end path monitoring. The container and the path overhead are together called as Virtual Container (VC). (VC = C + POH) In Virtual Container the POH fields are organized in a block frame structure either in 125 microseconds or in 500 microseconds Two types of virtual containers have been identified. Basic virtual containers: Higher order virtual containers: VC11, VC12. VC3, VC4

This unit is an information structure, which provides adaptation between the lower order path layer and the higher order path layer. It consists of information payload of virtual container and the tributary unit pointer. TU-2 for VC-2, TU-3 for VC-3 etc.

One or more tributary units are grouped or multiplexed by byte interleaving to form higher bit stream rate as part of multiplexing structure. TUG-2 is a group of 3 TU-12s or 4 TU11s or 1 TU2.

TUG-3 consists of homogenous assembly of TUG-2s or TU-3, either seven TUG-2s or one TU-3.

Administrative Unit (AU)

It is the information structure, which provides adaptation between higher order path layer and the multiplex section layer. It consists of information payload and AU pointer, which indicates the offset of the payload frame start relating to the multiplex section frame start. AU location is fixed with respect to STM-frame.

Administrative Group Unit(AUG)

It consists of a homogenous assembly of AU-3s or AU-4.


Each equipment in an SDH network is known as a Network Element (NE).

There are a number of types of Network Element.

SYNCHRONOUS MULTIPLEXER This interfaces PDH and SDH signals and multiplexes lower order SDH signals to higher order SDH.

If the multiplexer is used to provide a drop and insert function it is termed a Synchronous Add-Drop Multiplexer or ADMUX. If the multiplexer is used as a terminal multiplexer it is termed a Synchronous Terminal Multiplexer.





SYNCHRONOUS DIGITAL CROSS-CONNECT (SDXC or SXC) This equipment allows the inter-connection of any lower order part (or parts) of an STM-1 signal to other STM-1 or PDH signals.

Plesiochronous and lower bit rate synchronous signals can be extracted from or inserted into high speed SDH bit streams by means of ADMs. This feature makes it possible to set up ring structures, which have the advantage that automatic back-up path switching is possible using elements in the ring in the event of a fault.

Network Node Interface (NNI)










The Network Node Interface (NNI) specifications are necessary to enable interconnection of synchronous digital network elements for transport of payloads

ITU-T Rec.:
G.707 G.703 G.957 Synchronous Multiplex Structure Electrical characteristic Optical interface characteristic

It is the interface at a network node, which is used to interconnect another network node. The NNI is the most important interface. This interface is defined in ITU (T )s Rec.G.708 and allows interconnection of network components (e.g.,network nodes and multiplex systems) via cable or radio links. Recommendation G.708 describes the logical characteristics of the interface (i.e., structure and meaning of the bit stream at the NNI). The physical characteristics will be specified in other recommendations. Both electrical and optical interfaces are specified for the STM-1 level(155.52 Mbps). The electrical interface uses CMI coding similar to the 139.264 mbps interface described in ITU (T) Rec. G.703.

STM Frame With Over Heads & Pay Load


The first 9 bytes of a row are used for overheads, the remaining 261 bytes for payload. A frame is usually represented on a drawing as an assembly of columns and rows, where a row is shown horizontally in a vertical stack of nine rows. The frame commences at the top left corner of the stack and finishes 125 microseconds later at the bottom right corner

The overhead bytes therefore align vertically as the first nine columns of the structure with the payload being contained in columns 10 to 270

SDH multiplexing combines low-speed digital signals such as 2, 34, and 140 Mbit/s signals with required overhead to form a frame called Synchronous Transport Module at level one (STM-1). which is created by 9 segments of 270 bytes each. The first 9 bytes of each segment carry overhead information; the remaining 261 bytes carry payload. When visualized as a block, the STM-1 frame appears as 9 rows by 270 columns of bytes. The STM-1 frame is transmitted row #1 first, with the most significant bit (MSB) of each byte transmitted first. This formula calculates the bit rate of a framed digital signal: bit rate = frame rate x frame capacity In order for SDH to easily integrate existing digital services into its hierarchy, it operates at the basic rate of 8 kHz, or 125 microseconds per frame, so the frame rate is 8,000 frames per second. The frame capacity of a signal is the number of bits contained within a single frame. frame capacity = 270 bytes/row x 9 rows/frame x 8 bits/byte = 19,440 bits/frame The bit rate of the STM-1 signal is calculated as follows:

bit rate = 8,000 frames/second x 19,440 bits/frame= 155.52 Mbit/s

Section Over Head




Path trace between regenerators / connection verification.





Parity check (B2)

Alarm information (K2) Remote error indication (M1,K2)

Z1, Z2: not used

Reserve bytes for future use. Presently

E2: EOW. Voice channel. User Channel between multiplexers. M1: Transmits the information of the number of errors detected by B2 to the remote equipment NU: Bytes reserved for Local or National use

Summary of the PDH/SDH multiplex procedure

Container C-n: (n=1-4) Basic information structure which forms the synchronous payload. The input data rate is adapted by fixed stuffing bits. Clock deviations are compensated by a stuffing procedure similar to PDH. Virtual Container VC-n: (n=1-4) The virtual container is the information structure with facilities for maintenance and supervising. It comprises the information (payload) and the POH. Maintenance signals are path related which spans from end-to-end through the SDH system.
Tributary Unit TU-n: (n=1-3); only for VC-1/2/3 The tributary unit is formed of the virtual container and a pointer to indicate the start of the VC. The pointer position is fixed. Triburary Unit Group TUG-n: (n=3,4); only if TU's are available this is formed by a group of identical TUs for further processing. Administration Unit AU-n: (n=3,4) This element comprises a VC and an AU pointer. The pointer position is fixed within the STM-1 frame.

Plesiochronous signal


Path Overhead

Virtual Container


Administrative Unit
Section Overhead


Synchronous Transport Module


Container C4 The input to container C4 is E4 -139.264 mbps. After clock recovery and regeneration of the tributary, the data is placed in container.

C-4 Container

The size of the C-4

9 x 260 = 2340 Bytes.

The number of bits available therefore equates to 2340 x 8 = 18720 bits

The number of bits (139.264Mbit.s) actually to be transmitted per Container 139.264 Mbit/s / 8000 Hz = 17408 bits.

This clearly reveals an overcapacity of the C-4.

Other than the tributary bits (140 Mbit/s) the following bits are mapped into the container C-4:

Information Bits.
Fixed Stuff Bits. Overhead Bits. Justification Bits. Justification Control bits.

The container is of duration of 125 microseconds and frame structure of 20 blocks X 9 rows

Frame :
Row :

20 Blocks (In each row) X 9 Rows = 180 Blocks.

20 Blocks.

Block :

13 Bytes Information bytes 12 & Over head bytes 1.

13 X 20 X 9 = 2340. 125 microseconds 2340 X 8 X 8000 = 149.760 mbps.

Bytes in Frame: Frame duration : Bit Rate :

The bit rate is 149.760 mbps and is higher than input to C4, which is 139.264 mbps. Hence all the bits carried are not information bits. Some additional bits are added for justification and other purposes.

It is an operation, which makes it possible to fit a variable rate signal into a fixed rate frame. Suppose the normal rate of a tributary The variation of rate = X bits / sec = + bits / sec

To transmit the tributary with in S frame, it is necessary to allocate highest possible bit rate. S = X + bits / sec. E4 = 139.264 mbps + 15 ppm = 139264 + 2.088 kbps. 1 justification bit is added in a row in Z byte.

Mapping Of C4: (Each row)




I = Information bit at 140 mbps O = Service element bit reserved for future needs R = Fixed stuffing bit S = Justification bit (1 per line in Z) C = 5 Justification indicator bits (by majority detection) C = 00000 S = Information bit C = 11111 S = stuffing bit

Total information bits are [(12 x 8 x 20) + (1 X 8) + (1 X 6)] X 9 X 8000 = 139.248 mbps. This bit rate is the rate of C4 bits, which is less than the E4 - 139.264 mbps. To add some more information bits, S bit in Z byte is used as information bit (as justification bit) to the extent necessary, which gives a max. bit rate of 139.320 mbps. On mapping the container, POH of 9 bytes is added at VC4 & Pointer of 9 bytes is added at AU4 and transmitted to AUG.

C4 With POH & Pointer

One 139.264 Mbit/s signal (or three TUG-3 signals )can be mapped into a STM-1 frame to form the STM-1 payload.

The C-4 includes a Path Overhead (POH) with a size of 9 bytes.

Path Over Head (POH)

VC-4 = C-4 + POH, is located in the 10th column of STM-1 frame.

It provides the path trace, performance monitoring in addition to other details with regard to the STM-1. Payload This is the data area. The bytes containing data from the tributaries are transferred to the pay load area without buffering and are in relation with the STM-N frame.

These tributaries come from all levels of the plesiochronous (free running) hierarchy, E1, T1, T2,T3, E3, and E4. The payload transports the corresponding virtual containers VC12, VC11, VC2,VC3 or VC4

Higher-Order Path Overhead (VC-4/VC-3)

The Path Overhead is assigned to, and transported with the Virtual Container from the time its created by path terminating equipment until the payload is demultiplexed at the termination point in a piece of path terminating equipment. The Path Overhead is found in Rows 1 to 9 of the first column of the VC-4 or VC-3


Higher-Order VC-N path trace byte This user-programmable byte repetitively transmits a 15-byte, E.64 format string plus 1-byte CRC-7. A 64-byte free-format string is also permitted for this Access Point Identifier. This allows the receiving terminal in a path to verify its continued connection to the intended transmitting terminal. Path bit interleaved parity code (Path BIP-8) byte This is a parity code (even), used to determine if a transmission error has occurred over a path. Its value is calculated over all the bits of the previous virtual container before scrambling and placed in the B3 byte of the current frame. Path signal label byte This byte specifies the mapping type in the VC-N




Path status byte This byte is used to convey the path terminating status and performance back to the originating path terminating equipment. Therefore the bi-directional path in its entirety can be monitored, from either end of the path.


Path user channel byte This byte is used for user communication between path elements.


Position and Sequence Indicator byte

This byte provides a multi frame and sequence indicator for virtual VC- 3/4 concatenation and a generalized position indicator for payloads.

In the latter case, the content is payload specific (e.g., H4 can be used as multi frame indicator for VC-2/1 payload).

F3 Path user channel byte


This byte is allocated for communication purposes between path elements and is payload dependent.

signaling is provided in K3 bits 1-4, allocated for protection at the VC- 4/3 path levels. K3 bits 5-8 are allocated for future use. These bits have no defined value. The receiver is required to ignore their content.
N1 Network operator byte This byte is allocated to provide a Higher-Order Tandem Connection Monitoring (HO-TCM) function.

N1 is allocated for Tandem Connection Monitoring for contiguous concatenated VC-4, the VC-4 and VC-3 levels.

Pointer 9-byte structure.

H1 and H2 Pointer bytes These two bytes, the VC payload pointer, specify the location of the VC frame. Its used to align the VC and STM-1 Section Overheads in an STM-N signal, to perform frequency justification, and to indicate STM-1 concatenation. H3 Pointer action byte This byte is used for frequency justification. Depending on the pointer value, the byte is used to adjust the fill input buffers. The byte only carries valid information in the event of negative justification, otherwise its not defined.

On a frame-by-frame basis, the payload pointer indicates the offset between the VC payload and the STM-N frame by identifying the location of the first byte of the VC in the payload. In other words, the VC is allowed to float within the STM-1 frame capacity.

To make this possible, within each STM-N frame, theres a pointer, known as the VC Payload Pointer, that indicates where the actual payload container starts. For a VC-4 payload, this pointer is located in columns 1 and 4 of the fourth row of the Section Overhead. The bytes H1 and H2 (two 8-bit bytes) of the Overhead can be viewed as one value

The pointer value indicates the offset in bytes from the pointer to the first byte of the VC, which is the J1 byte. Because the Section Overhead bytes are not counted, and starting points are at 3-byte increments for a VC-4 payload, the possible range is:

When theres a difference in phase or frequency, the pointer value is adjusted. To accomplish this, a process known as byte stuffing is used. In other words, the VC payload pointer indicates where in the container capacity a VC starts, and the byte stuffing process allows dynamic alignment of the VC in case it slips in time.


Justification masks any frequency deviation when the incoming data is slower (or faster) than the internal clock.
The AU-4 justification process allows either no justification or three bytes of either positive or negative justification per multiframe POSITIVEJUSTIFICATION This is when the VC-4 path has insufficient data to fill a VC-4 container in the time allocated by the multiplexer. Therefore the multiplexer has to fill the 'spare' bytes with dummy data (stuffing). This will cause the pointer value to increment by 1 in frame 3 of the multiframe. This process will occur occasionally to remove any frequency differences

Why do we need Payload Pointers?

Network box which takes traffic from one side and passes it along to the other side

Asynchronous Mapping of 140 Mbit/s PDH Signal into a VC-4

STM-1 Frame Structure


STM-1 Frame Structure

VC-4 VC-4 POH C-4

STM-1 Frame Structure

AU Pointer

VC-4 VC-4 POH C-4

STM-1 Frame Structure

270 Columns (Bytes) 1 1 3 4 5 9 270

RSOH AU Pointer




A STM-1 frame is built-up in the following way.

A basic unit known as a container (C) is formed from plesiochronous signals. Stuffing is used to give the plesiocronous signals a fixed bit rate. The clock frequency of the signal is adapted using positive or zero negative (bit) stuffing. or

The container bit rate itself is formed through an addidional fixed stuffing process. The container is nominally synchronized to the STM-N frame. Insertion of the path overhead (POH) produces a virtual container (VC).

The transmission paths through the SDH network are formed by these VCs which are the smallest transport units in SDH. This means that a VC has to be terminated at the end of a path at the SDH/PDH transition point. The VCs are coupled to the STM-1 frame by pointers (PTR) These pointers are used along with stuffing techniques (byte-stuffing) to compensate for unavoidable phase fluctations and other interferences which occurs in synchronous operating. The pointer and the VC forms the Administrative Unit (AU). Finally the Administrative Unit Group (AUG) or STM-1 is formed by adding the SOH.