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Modulation and Multiplexing Technologies

In fiber-optic communications, wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) is a technology

which multiplexes a number of optical carrier signals onto a single optical fiber by using
different wavelengths (i.e., colors) of laser light. This technique enables bidirectional
communications over one strand of fiber, as well as multiplication of capacity.

The term wavelength-division multiplexing is commonly applied to an optical carrier (which

is typically described by its wavelength), whereas frequency-division multiplexing typically
applies to a radio carrier (which is more often described by frequency). Since wavelength and
frequency are tied together through a simple directly inverse relationship, in which the
product of frequency and wavelength equals c (the propagation speed of light), the two terms
actually describe the same concept.

WDM systems

WDM operating principle

As there are three different WDM types, whereof one is called "WDM",

WDM systems are popular with telecommunications companies because they allow them to
expand the capacity of the network without laying more fiber. By using WDM and optical
amplifiers, they can accommodate several generations of technology development in their
optical infrastructure without having to overhaul the backbone network. Capacity of a given
link can be expanded simply by upgrading the multiplexers and demultiplexers at each end.

This is often done by use of optical-to-electrical-to-optical (O/E/O) translation at the very

edge of the transport network, thus permitting interoperation with existing equipment with
optical interfaces.

Most WDM systems operate on single-mode fiber optical cables, which have a core diameter
of 9 µm. Certain forms of WDM can also be used in multi-mode fiber cables (also known as
premises cables) which have core diameters of 50 or 62.5 µm.
Early WDM systems were expensive and complicated to run. However, recent
standardization and better understanding of the dynamics of WDM systems have made WDM
less expensive to deploy.

Optical receivers, in contrast to laser sources, tend to be wideband devices. Therefore, the
demultiplexer must provide the wavelength selectivity of the receiver in the WDM system.

WDM systems are divided into three different wavelength patterns,

WDM, DWDM and CWDM are based on the same concept of using multiple wavelengths of
light on a single fiber, but differ in the spacing of the wavelengths, number of channels, and
the ability to amplify the multiplexed signals in the optical space. EDFA provide an efficient
wideband amplification for the C-band, Raman amplification adds a mechanism for
amplification in the L-band. For CWDM, wideband optical amplification is not available,
limiting the optical spans to several tens of kilometres.

Normal (WDM),

A WDM system uses a multiplexer at the transmitter to join the several signals together, and
a demultiplexer at the receiver to split them apart. With the right type of fiber it is possible to
have a device that does both simultaneously, and can function as an optical add-drop
multiplexer. The optical filtering devices used have conventionally been etalons (stable solid-
state single-frequency Fabry–Pérot interferometers in the form of thin-film-coated optical

Coarse (CWDM)

Coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) uses increased channel spacing to allow
less sophisticated and thus cheaper transceiver designs. To provide 16 channels on a single
fiber CWDM uses the entire frequency band spanning the second and third transmission
window (1310/1550 nm respectively) including both windows (minimum dispersion window
and minimum attenuation window) but also the critical area where scattering may occur,
recommending the use of OH-free silica fibers in case the wavelengths between second and
third transmission windows are to be used. Avoiding this region, the channels 47, 49, 51, 53,
55, 57, 59, 61 remain and these are the most commonly used. With OS2 fibers the water peak
problem is overcome, and all possible 18 channels can be used.

Dense (DWDM).

Dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) uses the C-Band(1530 nm-1560 nm)
transmission window but with denser channel spacing. Channel plans vary, but a typical
DWDM system would use 40 channels at 100 GHz spacing or 80 channels with 50 GHz
spacing. Some technologies are capable of 12.5 GHz spacing (sometimes called ultra dense
WDM). New amplification options (Raman amplification) enable the extension of the usable
wavelengths to the L-band, more or less doubling these numbers.
Erbium-Doped Fiber Amplifier (EDFA)

An erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA) is a device that amplifies an optical fiber signal. It
is used in the telecommunications field and in various types of research fields. An EDFA is
"doped" with a material called erbium. The term "doping" refers to the process of using
chemical elements to facilitate results through the manipulation of electrons.

The EDFA was the first successful optical amplifier and a significant factor in the rapid
deployment of fiber optic networks during the 1990s.

EDFA provide an efficient wideband amplification for the C-band, Raman amplification adds
a mechanism for amplification in the L-band. For CWDM, wideband optical amplification is
not available, limiting the optical spans to several tens of kilometres.

Series of SFP+ transceivers for 10 Gbit/s WDM communications

Originally, the term "coarse wavelength division multiplexing" was fairly generic, and meant
a number of different things. In general, these things shared the fact that the choice of channel
spacings and frequency stability was such that erbium doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs) could
not be utilized. Prior to the relatively recent ITU standardization of the term, one common
meaning for coarse WDM meant two (or possibly more) signals multiplexed onto a single
fiber, where one signal was in the 1550 nm band, and the other in the 1310 nm band.

In 2002 the ITU standardized a channel spacing grid for use with CWDM (ITU-T G.694.2),
using the wavelengths from 1270 nm through 1610 nm with a channel spacing of 20 nm.
(G.694.2 was revised in 2003 to shift the actual channel centers by 1 nm, so that strictly
speaking the center wavelengths are 1271 to 1611 nm).[1] Many CWDM wavelengths below
1470 nm are considered "unusable" on older G.652 specification fibers, due to the increased
attenuation in the 1270–1470 nm bands. Newer fibers which conform to the G.652.C and
G.652.D[2] standards, such as Corning SMF-28e and Samsung Widepass nearly eliminate the
"water peak" attenuation peak and allow for full operation of all 18 ITU CWDM channels in
metropolitan networks.

The 10GBASE-LX4 10 Gbit/s physical layer standard is an example of a CWDM system in

which four wavelengths near 1310 nm, each carrying a 3.125 gigabit-per-second (Gbit/s) data
stream, are used to carry 10 Gbit/s of aggregate data.
The main characteristic of the recent ITU CWDM standard is that the signals are not spaced
appropriately for amplification by EDFAs. This therefore limits the total CWDM optical span
to somewhere near 60 km for a 2.5 Gbit/s signal, which is suitable for use in metropolitan
applications. The relaxed optical frequency stabilization requirements allow the associated
costs of CWDM to approach those of non-WDM optical components.

CWDM is also being used in cable television networks, where different wavelengths are used
for the downstream and upstream signals. In these systems, the wavelengths used are often
widely separated, for example the downstream signal might be at 1310 nm while the
upstream signal is at 1550 nm.

An interesting and relatively recent development relating coarse WDM is the creation of
GBIC and small form factor pluggable (SFP) transceivers utilizing standardized CWDM
wavelengths. GBIC and SFP optics allow for something very close to a seamless upgrade in
even legacy systems that support SFP interfaces. Thus, a legacy switch system can be easily
"converted" to allow wavelength multiplexed transport over a fiber simply by judicious
choice of transceiver wavelengths, combined with an inexpensive passive optical
multiplexing device.

Passive CWDM is an implementation of CWDM that uses no electrical power. It separates

the wavelengths using passive optical components such as bandpass filters and prisms. Many
manufacturers are promoting passive CWDM to deploy fiber to the home.

Dense WDM
Dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) refers originally to optical signals
multiplexed within the 1550 nm band so as to leverage the capabilities (and cost) of erbium
doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs), which are effective for wavelengths between approximately
1525–1565 nm (C band), or 1570–1610 nm (L band). EDFAs were originally developed to
replace SONET/SDH optical-electrical-optical (OEO) regenerators, which they have made
practically obsolete. EDFAs can amplify any optical signal in their operating range,
regardless of the modulated bit rate. In terms of multi-wavelength signals, so long as the
EDFA has enough pump energy available to it, it can amplify as many optical signals as can
be multiplexed into its amplification band (though signal densities are limited by choice of
modulation format). EDFAs therefore allow a single-channel optical link to be upgraded in
bit rate by replacing only equipment at the ends of the link, while retaining the existing
EDFA or series of EDFAs through a long haul route. Furthermore, single-wavelength links
using EDFAs can similarly be upgraded to WDM links at reasonable cost. The EDFA's cost
is thus leveraged across as many channels as can be multiplexed into the 1550 nm band.

DWDM systems

At this stage, a basic DWDM system contains several main components:

WDM multiplexer for DWDM communications

1. A DWDM terminal multiplexer. The terminal multiplexer contains a wavelength-

converting transponder for each data signal, an optical multiplexer and where
necessary an optical amplifier (EDFA). Each wavelength-converting transponder
receives an optical data signal from the client-layer, such as Synchronous optical
networking [SONET /SDH] or another type of data signal, converts this signal into
the electrical domain and re-transmits the signal at a specific wavelength using a
1,550 nm band laser. These data signals are then combined together into a multi-
wavelength optical signal using an optical multiplexer, for transmission over a single
fiber (e.g., SMF-28 fiber). The terminal multiplexer may or may not also include a
local transmit EDFA for power amplification of the multi-wavelength optical signal.
In the mid-1990s DWDM systems contained 4 or 8 wavelength-converting
transponders; by 2000 or so, commercial systems capable of carrying 128 signals
were available.
2. An intermediate line repeater is placed approximately every 80–100 km to
compensate for the loss of optical power as the signal travels along the fiber. The
'multi-wavelength optical signal' is amplified by an EDFA, which usually consists of
several amplifier stages.
3. An intermediate optical terminal, or optical add-drop multiplexer. This is a
remote amplification site that amplifies the multi-wavelength signal that may have
traversed up to 140 km or more before reaching the remote site. Optical diagnostics
and telemetry are often extracted or inserted at such a site, to allow for localization of
any fiber breaks or signal impairments. In more sophisticated systems (which are no
longer point-to-point), several signals out of the multi-wavelength optical signal may
be removed and dropped locally.
4. A DWDM terminal demultiplexer. At the remote site, the terminal de-multiplexer
consisting of an optical de-multiplexer and one or more wavelength-converting
transponders separates the multi-wavelength optical signal back into individual data
signals and outputs them on separate fibers for client-layer systems (such as
SONET/SDH). Originally, this de-multiplexing was performed entirely passively,
except for some telemetry, as most SONET systems can receive 1,550 nm signals.

However, in order to allow for transmission to remote client-layer systems (and to

allow for digital domain signal integrity determination) such de-multiplexed signals
are usually sent to O/E/O output transponders prior to being relayed to their client-
layer systems.
Often, the functionality of output transponder has been integrated into that of input
transponder, so that most commercial systems have transponders that support bi-
directional interfaces on both their 1,550 nm (i.e., internal) side, and external (i.e.,
client-facing) side. Transponders in some systems supporting 40 GHz nominal
operation may also perform forward error correction (FEC) via digital wrapper
technology, as described in the ITU-T G.709 standard.

5. Optical Supervisory Channel (OSC). This is data channel which uses an additional
wavelength usually outside the EDFA amplification band (at 1,510 nm, 1,620 nm,
1,310 nm or another proprietary wavelength). The OSC carries information about the
multi-wavelength optical signal as well as remote conditions at the optical terminal or
EDFA site. It is also normally used for remote software upgrades and user (i.e.,
network operator) Network Management information. It is the multi-wavelength
analogue to SONET's DCC (or supervisory channel). ITU standards suggest that the
OSC should utilize an OC-3 signal structure, though some vendors have opted to use
100 megabit Ethernet or another signal format. Unlike the 1550 nm multi-wavelength
signal containing client data, the OSC is always terminated at intermediate amplifier
sites, where it receives local information before re-transmission.

The introduction of the ITU-T G.694.1[3] frequency grid in 2002 has made it easier to
integrate WDM with older but more standard SONET/SDH systems. WDM wavelengths are
positioned in a grid having exactly 100 GHz (about 0.8 nm) spacing in optical frequency,
with a reference frequency fixed at 193.10 THz (1,552.52 nm).[4] The main grid is placed
inside the optical fiber amplifier bandwidth, but can be extended to wider bandwidths.
Today's DWDM systems use 50 GHz or even 25 GHz channel spacing for up to 160 channel

DWDM systems have to maintain more stable wavelength or frequency than those needed for
CWDM because of the closer spacing of the wavelengths. Precision temperature control of
laser transmitter is required in DWDM systems to prevent "drift" off a very narrow frequency
window of the order of a few GHz. In addition, since DWDM provides greater maximum
capacity it tends to be used at a higher level in the communications hierarchy than CWDM,
for example on the Internet backbone and is therefore associated with higher modulation
rates, thus creating a smaller market for DWDM devices with very high performance. These
factors of smaller volume and higher performance result in DWDM systems typically being
more expensive than CWDM.

Recent innovations in DWDM transport systems include pluggable and software-tunable

transceiver modules capable of operating on 40 or 80 channels. This dramatically reduces the
need for discrete spare pluggable modules, when a handful of pluggable devices can handle
the full range of wavelengths.

Wavelength-converting transponders

At this stage, some details concerning wavelength-converting transponders should be

discussed, as this will clarify the role played by current DWDM technology as an additional
optical transport layer. It will also serve to outline the evolution of such systems over the last
10 or so years.

As stated above, wavelength-converting transponders served originally to translate the

transmit wavelength of a client-layer signal into one of the DWDM system's internal
wavelengths in the 1,550 nm band (note that even external wavelengths in the 1,550 nm will
most likely need to be translated, as they will almost certainly not have the required
frequency stability tolerances nor will it have the optical power necessary for the system's

In the mid-1990s, however, wavelength converting transponders rapidly took on the

additional function of signal regeneration. Signal regeneration in transponders quickly
evolved through 1R to 2R to 3R and into overhead-monitoring multi-bitrate 3R regenerators.
These differences are outlined below:

Retransmission. Basically, early transponders were "garbage in garbage out" in that
their output was nearly an analogue "copy" of the received optical signal, with little
signal cleanup occurring. This limited the reach of early DWDM systems because the
signal had to be handed off to a client-layer receiver (likely from a different vendor)
before the signal deteriorated too far. Signal monitoring was basically confined to
optical domain parameters such as received power.
Re-time and re-transmit. Transponders of this type were not very common and
utilized a quasi-digital Schmitt-triggering method for signal clean-up. Some
rudimentary signal-quality monitoring was done by such transmitters that basically
looked at analogue parameters.
Re-time, re-transmit, re-shape. 3R Transponders were fully digital and normally able
to view SONET/SDH section layer overhead bytes such as A1 and A2 to determine
signal quality health. Many systems will offer 2.5 Gbit/s transponders, which will
normally mean the transponder is able to perform 3R regeneration on OC-3/12/48
signals, and possibly gigabit Ethernet, and reporting on signal health by monitoring
SONET/SDH section layer overhead bytes. Many transponders will be able to
perform full multi-rate 3R in both directions. Some vendors offer 10 Gbit/s
transponders, which will perform Section layer overhead monitoring to all rates up to
and including OC-192.
The muxponder (from multiplexed transponder) has different names depending on
vendor. It essentially performs some relatively simple time-division multiplexing of
lower-rate signals into a higher-rate carrier within the system (a common example is
the ability to accept 4 OC-48s and then output a single OC-192 in the 1,550 nm band).
More recent muxponder designs have absorbed more and more TDM functionality, in
some cases obviating the need for traditional SONET/SDH transport equipment.

Reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer (ROADM)

Main article: Reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer

As mentioned above, intermediate optical amplification sites in DWDM systems may allow
for the dropping and adding of certain wavelength channels. In most systems deployed as of
August 2006 this is done infrequently, because adding or dropping wavelengths requires
manually inserting or replacing wavelength-selective cards. This is costly, and in some
systems requires that all active traffic be removed from the DWDM system, because inserting
or removing the wavelength-specific cards interrupts the multi-wavelength optical signal.

With a ROADM, network operators can remotely reconfigure the multiplexer by sending soft
commands. The architecture of the ROADM is such that dropping or adding wavelengths
does not interrupt the "pass-through" channels. Numerous technological approaches are
utilized for various commercial ROADMs, the tradeoff being between cost, optical power,
and flexibility.

Optical cross connects (OXCs)

When the network topology is a mesh, where nodes are interconnected by fibers to form an
arbitrary graph, an additional fiber interconnection device is needed to route the signals from
an input port to the desired output port. These devices are called optical crossconnectors
(OXCs). Various categories of OXCs include electronic ("opaque"), optical ("transparent"),
and wavelength selective devices.

Enhanced WDM
Cisco's Enhanced WDM system combines 1 Gb Coarse Wave Division Multiplexing
(CWDM) connections using SFPs and GBICs with 10 Gb Dense Wave Division
Multiplexing (DWDM) connections using XENPAK, X2 or XFP DWDM modules. These
DWDM connections can either be passive or boosted to allow a longer range for the
connection. In addition to this, CFP modules deliver 100 Gbit/s Ethernet suitable for high
speed Internet backbone connections.

Transceivers versus transponders

 Transceivers – Since communication over a single wavelength is one-way (simplex
communication), and most practical communication systems require two-way (duplex
communication) communication, two wavelengths will be required (which might or
might not be on the same fiber, but typically they will be each on a separate fiber in a
so-called fiber pair). As a result, at each end both a transmitter (to send a signal over a
first wavelength) and a receiver (to receive a signal over a second wavelength) will be
required. A combination of a transmitter and a receiver is called a transceiver; it
converts an electrical signal to and from an optical signal. There are usually
transreceiver types based on WDM technology.
o Coarse WDM (CWDM) Transceivers: Wavelength 1270 nm, 1290 nm,
1310 nm, 1330 nm, 1350 nm, 1370 nm, 1390 nm, 1410 nm, 1430 nm,
1450 nm, 1470 nm, 1490 nm, 1510 nm, 1530 nm, 1550 nm, 1570 nm,
1590 nm, 1610 nm.[6]
o Dense WDM (DWDM) Transceivers: Channel 17 to Channel 61 according to
 Transponder – In practice, the signal inputs and outputs will not be electrical but
optical instead (typically at 1550 nm). This means that in effect we need wavelength
converters instead, which is exactly what a transponder is. A transponder can be made
up of two transceivers placed after each other: the first transceiver converting the
1550 nm optical signal to/from an electrical signal, and the second transceiver
converting the electrical signal to/from an optical signal at the required wavelength.
Transponders that don't use an intermediate electrical signal (all-optical transponders)
are in development.

Synchronous Optical NETwork (SONET)

SONET Basics
SONET defines optical signals and a synchronous frame structure for multiplexed digital
traffic. It is a set of standards that define the rates and formats for optical networks specified
in ANSI T1.105, ANSI T1.106, and ANSI T1.117.

A similar standard, Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH), is used in Europe by the

International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).
SONET equipment is generally used in North America, and SDH equipment is generally
accepted everywhere else in the world.

Both SONET and SDH are based on a structure that has a basic frame format and speed. The
frame format used by SONET is the Synchronous Transport Signal (STS), with STS-1 as the
base-level signal at 51.84 Mbps. An STS-1 frame can be carried in an OC-1 signal. The
frame format used by SDH is the Synchronous Transport Module (STM), with STM-1 as the
base-level signal at 155.52Mbps. An STM-1 frame can be carried in an OC-3 signal.

Both SONET and SDH have a hierarchy of signaling speeds. Multiple lower-level signals can
be multiplexed to form higher-level signals. For example, three STS-1 signals can be
multiplexed together to form an STS-3 signal, and four STM-1 signals multiplexed together
to form an STM-4 signal.

SONET and SDH are technically comparable standards. The term SONET is often used to
refer to either.

SONET Transport Hierarchy

Each level of the hierarchy terminates its corresponding fields in the SONET payload, as


A section is a single fiber run that can be terminated by a network element (Line or Path) or
an optical regenerator.

The main function of the section layer is to properly format the SONET frames, and to
convert the electrical signals to optical signals. Section Terminating Equipment (STE) can
originate, access, modify, or terminate the section header overhead. (A standard STS-1 frame
is nine rows by 90 bytes. The first three bytes of each row comprise the Section and Line
header overhead.)


Line-Terminating Equipment (LTE) originates or terminates one or more sections of a line

signal. The LTE does the synchronization and multiplexing of information on SONET
frames. Multiple lower-level SONET signals can be mixed together to form higher-level
SONET signals. An Add/Drop Multiplexer (ADM) is an example of LTE.


Path-Terminating Equipment (PTE) interfaces non-SONET equipment to the SONET

network. At this layer, the payload is mapped and demapped into the SONET frame. For
example, an STS PTE can assemble 25 1.544 Mbps DS1 signals and insert path overhead to
form an STS-1 signal.

This layer is concerned with end-to-end transport of data.

Configuration Example

The optical interface layers have a hierarchical relationship; each layer builds on the services
provided by the next lower layer. Each layer communicates to peer equipment in the same
layer and processes information, and passes it up or down to the next layer. As an example,
consider two network nodes that are to exchange DS1 signals, as shown in this figure:

At the source node, the path layer (PTE) maps 28 DS1 signals and path overhead to form an
STS-1 Synchronous Payload Envelope (SPE) and hands this to the line layer.
The line layer (LTE) multiplexes STS-1 SPE signals and adds line overhead. This combined
signal is then passed to the section layer.

The section layer (STE) performs framing and scrambling and adds section overhead to form
an STS-n signal.

Finally, the electrical STS signal is converted to an optical signal for the photonic layer and
transmitted over the fiber to the distant node.

Across the SONET network, the signal is regenerated in optical regenerators (STE-level
devices), passed through an ADM (an LTE-level device), and eventually terminated at a node
(at the PTE level).

At the distant node, the process is reversed from the photonic layer to the path layer where
the DS1 signals terminate.

GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications, originally Groupe SpécialMobile), is a

standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to
describe the protocols for second-generation (2G) digital cellular networks used by mobile
phones, first deployed in Finland in July 1991.[2] As of 2014 it has become the de facto global
standard for mobile communications - with over 90% market share, operating in over 219
countries and territories.[3]

2G networks developed as a replacement for first generation (1G) analog cellular networks,
and the GSM standard originally described a digital, circuit-switched network optimized for
full duplex voice telephony. This expanded over time to include data communications, first
by circuit-switched transport, then by packet data transport via GPRS (General Packet Radio
Services) and EDGE (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution or EGPRS).

Subsequently, the 3GPP developed third-generation (3G) UMTS standards followed by

fourth-generation (4G) LTE Advanced standards, which do not form part of the ETSI GSM

"GSM" is a trademark owned by the GSM Association. It may also refer to the (initially)
most common voice codec used, Full Rate.

Technical details
The structure of a GSM network

Network structure

The network is structured into a number of discrete sections:

 Base Station Subsystem – the base stations and their controllers explained
 Network and Switching Subsystem – the part of the network most similar to a fixed network,
sometimes just called the "core network"
 GPRS Core Network – the optional part which allows packet-based Internet connections
 Operations support system (OSS) – network maintenance

Base station subsystem

GSM is a cellular network, which means that cell phones connect to it by searching for cells
in the immediate vicinity. There are five different cell sizes in a GSM network—macro,
micro, pico, femto, and umbrella cells. The coverage area of each cell varies according to the
implementation environment.

 Macro cells can be regarded as cells where the base station antenna is installed on a
mast or a building above average rooftop level.
 Micro cells are cells whose antenna height is under average rooftop level; they are
typically used in urban areas.
 Picocells are small cells whose coverage diameter is a few dozen metres; they are
mainly used indoors.
 Femtocells are cells designed for use in residential or small business environments
and connect to the service provider’s network via a broadband internet connection.
 Umbrella cells are used to cover shadowed regions of smaller cells and fill in gaps in
coverage between those cells.

Cell horizontal radius varies depending on antenna height, antenna gain, and propagation
conditions from a couple of hundred meters to several tens of kilometres. The longest
distance the GSM specification supports in practical use is 35 kilometres (22 mi). There are
also several implementations of the concept of an extended cell, where the cell radius could
be double or even more, depending on the antenna system, the type of terrain, and the timing

Indoor coverage is also supported by GSM and may be achieved by using an indoor picocell
base station, or an indoor repeater with distributed indoor antennas fed through power
splitters, to deliver the radio signals from an antenna outdoors to the separate indoor
distributed antenna system. These are typically deployed when significant call capacity is
needed indoors, like in shopping centers or airports. However, this is not a prerequisite, since
indoor coverage is also provided by in-building penetration of the radio signals from any
nearby cell.
GSM carrier frequencies

GSM networks operate in a number of different carrier frequency ranges (separated into
GSM frequency ranges for 2G and UMTS frequency bands for 3G), with most 2G GSM
networks operating in the 900 MHz or 1800 MHz bands. Where these bands were already
allocated, the 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands were used instead (for example in Canada and
the United States). In rare cases the 400 and 450 MHz frequency bands are assigned in some
countries because they were previously used for first-generation systems.

Most 3G networks in Europe operate in the 2100 MHz frequency band. For more information
on worldwide GSM frequency usage, see GSM frequency bands.

Regardless of the frequency selected by an operator, it is divided into timeslots for individual
phones. This allows eight full-rate or sixteen half-rate speech channels per radio frequency.
These eight radio timeslots (or burst periods) are grouped into a TDMA frame. Half-rate
channels use alternate frames in the same timeslot. The channel data rate for all 8 channels is
270.833 kbit/s, and the frame duration is 4.615 ms.

The transmission power in the handset is limited to a maximum of 2 watts in GSM 850/900
and 1 watt in GSM 1800/1900.

Voice codecs

GSM has used a variety of voice codecs to squeeze 3.1 kHz audio into between 6.5 and
13 kbit/s. Originally, two codecs, named after the types of data channel they were allocated,
were used, called Half Rate (6.5 kbit/s) and Full Rate (13 kbit/s). These used a system based
on linear predictive coding (LPC). In addition to being efficient with bitrates, these codecs
also made it easier to identify more important parts of the audio, allowing the air interface
layer to prioritize and better protect these parts of the signal.

As GSM was further enhanced in 1997 with the Enhanced Full Rate (EFR) codec, a
12.2 kbit/s codec that uses a full-rate channel. Finally, with the development of UMTS, EFR
was refactored into a variable-rate codec called AMR-Narrowband, which is high quality and
robust against interference when used on full-rate channels, or less robust but still relatively
high quality when used in good radio conditions on half-rate channel.

Subscriber Identity Module (SIM)

One of the key features of GSM is the Subscriber Identity Module, commonly known as a
SIM card. The SIM is a detachable smart card containing the user's subscription information
and phone book. This allows the user to retain his or her information after switching
handsets. Alternatively, the user can also change operators while retaining the handset simply
by changing the SIM. Some operators will block this by allowing the phone to use only a
single SIM, or only a SIM issued by them; this practice is known as SIM locking.

Phone locking
Sometimes mobile network operators restrict handsets that they sell for use with their own
network. This is called locking and is implemented by a software feature of the phone. A
subscriber may usually contact the provider to remove the lock for a fee, utilize private
services to remove the lock, or use software and websites to unlock the handset themselves. It
is possible to illegally hack past a phone locked by a network operator.

Multi-Carrier Code Division Multiple Access

(MC-CDMA) is a multiple access scheme used in OFDM-based telecommunication

systems, allowing the system to support multiple users at the same time.

MC-CDMA spreads each user symbol in the frequency domain. That is, each user symbol is
carried over multiple parallel subcarriers, but it is phase shifted (typically 0 or 180 degrees)
according to a code value. The code values differ per subcarrier and per user. The receiver
combines all subcarrier signals, by weighing these to compensate varying signal strengths
and undo the code shift. The receiver can separate signals of different users, because these
have different (e.g. orthogonal) code values.

Since each data symbol occupies a much wider bandwidth (in hertz) than the data rate (in
bit/s), a signal-to-noise-plus-interference ratio (if defined as signal power divided by total
noise plus interference power in the entire transmission band) of less than 0 dB is feasible.

One way of interpreting MC-CDMA is to regard it as a direct-sequence CDMA signal (DS-

CDMA) which is transmitted after it has been fed through an inverse FFT (Fast Fourier

Vestigial sideband (VSB) is a type of amplitude modulation ( AM ) technique (sometimes

called VSB-AM ) that encodes data by varying the amplitude of a single carrier frequency .
Portions of one of the redundant sidebands are removed to form a vestigial sideband signal -
so-called because a vestige of the sideband remains.

In AM, the carrier itself does not fluctuate in amplitude. Instead, the modulating data appears
in the form of signal components at frequencies slightly higher and lower than that of the
carrier. These components are called sidebands . The lower sideband (LSB) appears at
frequencies below the carrier frequency; the upper sideband (USB) appears at frequencies
above the carrier frequency. The actual information is transmitted in the sidebands, rather
than the carrier; both sidebands carry the same information. Because LSB and USB are
essentially mirror images of each other, one can be discarded or used for a second channel or
for diagnostic purposes.

VSB transmission is similar to single-sideband (SSB) transmission, in which one of the

sidebands is completely removed. In VSB transmission, however, the second sideband is not
completely removed, but is filtered to remove all but the desired range of frequencies .

Eight-level VSB ( 8-VSB ) was developed by Zenith for inclusion in the Advanced
Television Systems Committee ( ATSC set of digital television ( DTV ) standards.
Quality of Service
Quality of Service is the level of performance (or ‘quality’) that a service provider provides
to its subscribers. In telecommunications, this relates to the ability of a service provider to
give reliable, accessible and easy to use services. The provider should also offer reliable and
effective customer service

Before a consumer purchases communications products or services, there are some aspects
that should be taken into consideration besides the price. Some service providers may at some
point even limit the number of subscribers that they accept concurrently and not every service
provider has an easy process for consumers to subscribe to their services. Consumers are also
faced with the fact that the services that they subscribe to are sometimes not satisfactory for
example, instances when the network is inaccessible making it impossible for one to make a
phone call or when the call is disconnected during a conversation due to some fault of the
network or when one cannot hear the other party on the phone.

Consumers should be aware of the fact that some of the communication networks may lack
the capacity to handle all traffic or simultaneous requests for services from the various users.
In most cases applications with very different characteristics and requirements compete for
scarce network resources. For such networks, where the capacity is a limited resource, the
consumer cannot expect to always get the highest possible level of service but must accept a
certain level of degradation.

Consumers are entitled to the following basic levels of service;

 Value for money

 Accurate billing
 Ease of use of the service or product
 Professionalism, on the part of the service provider, in the provision of the service
 Flexibility in the use of the service on the part of the consumer – for instance; the ease
with which the consumer is able to switch from one operator to another; from one
resource to another; one piece of equipment to another – or even in the requirement
for the change of a telephone number
 That the product or service should perform according to specified expectations
 That the service be reliable and fulfill the needs of the consumer as specified
 That the service be secure in terms of privacy of ALL data sent and received.

Power control

Power control is the intelligent selection of transmitter power output in a communication

system to achieve good performance within the system. The notion of "good performance"
can depend on context and may include optimizing metrics such as link data rate, network
capacity, outage probability, geographic coverage and range, and life of the network and
network devices. Power control algorithms are used in many contexts, including cellular
networks, sensor networks, wireless LANs, and DSL modems.

Increasing transmit power on a communication link has numerous benefits:

 In general, for any particular set of channel conditions, a higher transmit power translates into
a higher signal power at the receiver. Having a higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) at the
receiver reduces the bit error rate of a digital communication link.
 A higher SNR can also allow a system that uses link adaptation to transmit at a higher data
rate, resulting in a system with greater spectral efficiency.
 In a wireless fading channel, using higher transmit power provides more protection against a
signal fade. In a cellular network, for example, this results in a lower dropped call probability.

Using a higher transmit power, however, has the following drawbacks:

 Overall power consumption in the transmitting device is higher. This is of particular concern
in mobile devices, where battery life is reduced correspondingly.
 Interference to other users in the same frequency band is increased. In cellular spread-
spectrum systems such as CDMA, where users share a single frequency and are only
separated by different spreading codes, the number of users that a cell can support as well as
the size of the cell are typically limited by the amount of interference present in the cell;
increased interference therefore results in decreased cell capacity and size. Even in FDMA
systems such as GSM where each user in a cell uses a different frequency, interference is still
present between different cells and reduces the amount of frequency reuse the network can
support. In wireline networks such as DSL, lines from many subscriber homes are often
bundled together, and interference between signals on different lines manifests itself as
crosstalk and reduces the achievable data rate to each home.

Typically, there is no simple answer to the problem of power control, and a good algorithm
must strike a balance between the benefits and drawbacks associated with targeting a
particular transmit power based on the performance criteria of most importance to the

Transmit Power Control

Transmit Power Control is a technical mechanism used within some networking devices in
order to prevent too much unwanted interference between different wireless networks (e.g.
the owner's network and the neighbour's network).

The network devices supporting this feature include IEEE 802.11h Wireless LAN devices in
the 5 GHz band compliant to the IEEE 802.11a. The idea of the mechanism is to
automatically reduce the used transmission output power when other networks are within
range. Reduced power means reduced interference problems and increased battery capacity.
The power level of a single device can be reduced by 6 dB which should result in an
accumulated power level reduction (the sum of radiated power of all devices currently
transmitting) of at least 3 dB (which is half of the power).
Because of the interference in the WCDMA system, power control plays a very important
role in the quality control for the different services in the UMTS system. Power control is
executed 1500 times per sec. whereas in GSM system it is ~2 times per sec.