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Synchronous Digital Hierarchy Vs Plesiochronous Digital Hierarchy

The introduction of any new technology is usually preceded by much hyperbole and rhetoric. In many cases, the revolution predicted never gets beyond this. In many more, it never achieves the wildly over optimistic growth forecasted by market specialists - home computing and the paperless office to name but two. It is fair to say, however, by whatever method you use to evaluate a new technology that synchronous digital transmission does not fall into this category. The fundamental benefits to be gained from its deployment by PTOs seem to be so overwhelming that, bar a catastrophe, the bulk of today's plesiochronous transmission systems used for high speed backbone links will be pushed aside in the ne t few years. To !uote "ata!uest#, $It has been claimed by many industry e perts that the impact of synchronous technology will e!ual that of the transition from analogue to digital technology or from copper to fiber optic based transmission.$ %or the first time in telecommunications history there will be a world-wide, uniform and seamless transmission standard for service delivery. &ynchronous digital hierarchy '&"() provides the capability to send data at multi-gigabit rates over today's single-mode fiber-optics links. This first issue of Technology *atch looks at synchronous digital transmission and evaluates its potential impact. %ollowing issues of T* will look at customer oriented broad-band services that will ride on the back of &"( deployment by PTOs. These will include#

%rame relay &+"& '&witched +ulti-+egabit "ata &ervice) ,T+ 'asynchronous transfer mode) (igh speed -,. services such as %""I

%igure / shows the relationship between these technologies and services.

Figure 1 - The Relationship between Services

Overview The use of synchronous digital transmission by PTOs in their backbone fibre-optic and radio network will put in place the enabling technology that will support many new broad-band data services demanded by the new breed of computer user. (owever, the deployment of synchronous digital transmission is not only

concerned with the provision of high-speed gigabit networks. It has as much to do with simplifying access to links and with bringing the full benefits of software control in the form of fle ibility and introduction of network management. In many respects, the benefits to the PTO will be the same as those brought to the electronics industry when hard wired logic was replaced by the microprocessor. ,s with that revolution, synchronous digital transmission will not take hold overnight, but deployment will be spread over a decade, with the technology first appearing on new backbone links. The first to feel the benefits will be the PTOs themselves, as demonstrated by the technology's early uptake by many operators including 0T. Only later will customers directly benefit with the introduction of new services such as connectionless -,.-to--,. transmission capability. ,ccording to one market research company it will take until the mid or late /112s before 324 of revenue for network e!uipment manufacturers will be derived from synchronous systems. 5emembering that this is a multi-billion 6 market, this constitutes a radical change by any standard '%igure 7). 8sers who e tensively use P9s and workstations with -,.s, graphic layout, 9," and remote database applications are now looking to the telecommunication service suppliers to provide the means of interlinking these now powerful machines at data rates commensurable with those achieved by their own in-house -,.s. They also want to be able to transfer information to other metropolitan and international sites as easily and as !uickly as they can to a colleague sitting at the ne t desk.

Figure 2 - European Revenue Growth of Transmission Equipment

Plesiochronous Transmission. "igital data and voice transmission is based on a 7.2:;+bit<s bearer consisting of =2 time division multiple ed 'T"+) voice channels, each running at >:?bps 'known as @/ and described by the 99ITT A.32= specification). ,t the @/ level, timing is controlled to an accuracy of / in /2// by synchronising to a

master 9aesium clock. Increasing traffic over the past decade has demanded that more and more of these basic @/ bearers be multiple ed together to provide increased capacity. "uring this time rates have increased through ;, =:, and /:2+bit<s. The highest capacity commonly encountered today for inter-city fibre optic links is B>B+bit<s, with each link carrying 3,>;2 base channels, and now even this is insufficient. 8nlike @/ 7.2:;+bit<s bearers, higher rate bearers in the hierarchy are operated plesiochronously, with tolerances on an absolute bit-rate ranging from =2ppm 'parts per million) at ;+bit<s to /Bppm at /:2+bit<s. +ultiple ing such bearers 'known as tributaries in &"( speak) to a higher aggregate rate 'e.g. : ;+bit<s to / =:+bit<s) re!uires the padding of each tributary by adding bits such that their combined rate together with the addition of control bits matches the final aggregate rate. Plesiochronous transmission is now often referred to as plesiochronous digital hierarchy 'P"().

Figure 3 -

t!pical "lesiochronous #rop $ %nsert

0ecause of the large investment in earlier generations of plesiochronous transmission e!uipment, each step increase in capacity has necessitated maintaining compatibility with what was already installed by adding yet another layer of multiple ing. This has created the situation where each data link has a rigid physical and electrical multiple ing hierarchy at either end. Once multiple ed, there is no simple way an individual @/ bearer can be identified in a P"( hierarchy, let alone e tracted, without fully demultiple ing down to the @/ level again as shown in %igure =. The limitations of P"& multiple ing are#

, hierarchy of multiple ers at either end of the link can lead to reduced reliability and resilience, minimum fle ibility, long reconfiguration turn-around times, large e!uipment volume, and high capital-e!uipment and maintenance costs. P"( links are generally limited to point-to-point configurations with full demultiple ing at each switching or cross connect node. Incompatibilities at the optical interfaces of two different suppliers can cause maCor system integration problems. To add or drop an individual channel or add a lower rate branch to a backbone link a complete hierarchy of +8Ds is re!uired as shown in figure =. 0ecause of these limitations of P"(, the introduction of an acceptable world-wide synchronous transmission standard called &"( is welcomed by all.

Synchronous Transmission In the 8&, in the early /1;2s, it was clear that a new standard was re!uired to overcome the limitations presented by P"( networks, so the ,.&I ',merican .ational &tandards Institute) &O.@T 'synchronous optical network) standard was born in /1;:. 0y /1;;, collaboration between ,.&I and 99ITT produced an international standard, a superset of &O.@T, called synchronous digital hierarchy '&"(). 8& &O.@T standards are based on &T&-/ 'synchronous transport signal) e!uivalent to B/.;:+bit<s. *hen encoded and modulated onto a fiber optic carrier &T&-/ is known as O9-/. This particular rate was chosen to accommodate a 8& T-= plesiochronous payload to maintain backwards compatibility with P"(. (igher data rates are multiples of this up to &T&-:;, which is 7,:;;Abit<s. &"( is based on an &T+-/ '/BB.B7+bit<s) rate, which is identical to the &O.@T &T&-= rate. &ome higher bearer rates coincide with &O.@T rates such as# &T&-/7 and &T+-: E >77+bit<s, and &T&-:; and &T+-/> E 7.:;;Abit<s. +ercury is currently trialing &T+-/ and &T+-/> rate e!uipment. &"( supports the transmission of all P"( payloads, other than ;+bit<s, and ,T+, &+"& and +,. data. +ost importantly, because each type of payload is transmitted in containers synchronous with the &T+-/ frame, selected payloads may be inserted or e tracted from the &T+-/ or &T+-. aggregate without the need to fully hierarchically de-multiple as with P"( systems. %urther, all &"( e!uipment is software controlled, even down to the individual chip, allowing centraliFed management of the network configuration, and largely obviates the need for plugs and sockets. , future &"( network could look like %igure :.

Figure &-

n E'ample Future S#( #igital )etwor*

Benefits of SDH Transmission &"( transmission systems have many benefits over P"(#

Software Control allows e tensive use of intelligent network management software for high fle ibility, fast and easy re-configurability, and efficient network management. Surviva ility. *ith &"(, ring networks become practicable and their use enables automatic reconfiguration and traffic rerouting when a link is damaged. @nd-to-end monitoring will allow full management and maintenance of the whole network. !fficient drop and insert. &"( allows simple and efficient cross-connect without full hierarchical multiple ing or de-multiple ing. , single @/ 7.2:;+bit<s tail can be dropped or inserted with relative ease even on Abit<s links. Standardi"ations enable the interconnection of e!uipment from different suppliers through support of common digital and optical standards and interfaces. #o ustness and resilience of installed networks is increased. !$uipment si"e and operating costs are reduced by removing the need for banks of multiple ers and de-multiple ers. %ollow-on maintenance costs are also reduced. Bac%wards compati ly will enable &"( links to support P"( traffic. &uture proof. &"( forms the basis, in partnership with ,T+ 'asynchronous transfer mode), of broad-band transmission, otherwise known as 0-I&". or the precursor of this service in the form of &witched +ultimegabit "ata &ervice, '&+"&).

Conclusions The introduction of synchronous digital transmission in the form of &"( will eventually revolutioniFe all aspects of public data communication from individual leased lines through to trunk networks. 0ecause of the state-of-the-art nature of &"( and &O.@T technology, there are e tensive field trials taking place in /117 throughout the world prior to introduction in the /11= - /11B time scale. There is still a lack of understanding of the ramifications of the introduction of &"( within telecommunications operations. In practice, the use of e tensive software control will impact positively all parts of the business. It is not so much a !uestion of whether the technology will be taken up, but when. Introduction of &"( will lead to the availability of many new broad-band data services providing users with increased fle ibility. It is in this area where confusion reigns with potential technologies vying for supremacy. These will be discussed in future issues of Technology *atch. Importantly for PTOs, &"( will bring about more competition between e!uipment suppliers designing essentially to a common standard. One practical effect could be to force e!uipment prices down, brought about by the larger volumes engendered by access to world rather than local markets. ,t least one manufacturer is currently stating that they will be spending up to ;24 of their &"( development budgets on management software rather than hardware. &uch was the situation in the computer industry in the early /1;2s. .ot least, it will have a great impact on such issues as staffing levels and re!uired personal skills of personnel within PTOs. &"( deployment will take a great deal of investment and effort since it replaces the very infrastructure of the world's core communications networks. 0ut it must not be forgotten that there are still many issues to be resolved. The benefits to be gained in terms of improving operator profitability, and helping them to compete in the new markets of the /112s, are so high that deployment of &"( is Cust a !uestion of time.