Transmission And Switching: Cornerstones Of A Network

 Transmission And Switching Defined

The IEEE defines transmission as the propagation of a signal, message, or other form of intelligence by any means such as optical fiber, wire, or visual means. Our definition is not so broad. Transmission provides the transport of a signal from an end-user source to the destination such that the signal quality at the destination meets certain performance criteria.

Switching selects the route to the desired destination that the transmitted signal travels by the closing of switches in either the space domain or the time domain or some combination(s) of the two.

Prior to about 1985, transmission and switching were separate disciplines in telecommunication with a firm dividing line between the two. Switching engineers knew little about transmission, and transmission engineers knew little about switching. As we mentioned in Chapter 1, that dividing line today is hazy at best. Signaling develops and carries the control information for switches. If a transmission path becomes impaired, signaling becomes ineffectual and the distant-end switch either will not operate or will not function correctly, misrouting the connectivity. Timing, which is so vital for the digital transmission path, derives from the connected switches.

 Traffic Intensity Defines The Size Of Switches And The Capacity Of Transmission Links

Traffic Studies

As we have already mentioned, telephone exchanges (switches) are connected by trunks or junctions.1 The number of trunks connecting exchange X with exchange Y is the number of voice pairs or their equivalent used in the connection. One of the most important steps in telecommunication system design is to determine the number of trunks required on a route or connection between exchanges. We could say we are dimensioning the route. To dimension the route correctly we must have some idea of its usage—that is, how many people will wish to talk at once over the route. The usage of a transmission route or switch brings us into the realm of traffic engineering; and usage may be defined by two parameters: (1) calling rate, or the number of times a route or traffic path is used per unit time period; or more properly defined, “the call intensity per traffic path during the busy hour (BH)”; and (2) holding time, or “the average duration of occupancy of one or more paths by calls.” A traffic path is a “channel, time slot, frequency band, line, trunk switch, or circuit over which individual communications pass in sequence.” Carried traffic is the volume of traffic actually carried by a switch, and offered traffic is the volume of traffic offered to a switch. Offered traffic minus carried traffic equals lost calls. A lost call is one that does not make it through a switch. A call is “lost” usually because it meets congestion or blockage at that switch.

To dimension a traffic path or size a telephone exchange, we must know the traffic intensity representative of the normal busy season. There are weekly and daily variations in traffic within the busy season. Traffic is random in nature. However, there is a certain consistency we can look for. For one thing, there is usually more traffic on Mondays and Fridays, and there is a lower volume on Wednesdays. A certain consistency can also be found in the normal workday variation. Across a typical day the variation is such that a one-hour period shows greater usage than any other one-hour period. From the hour of the day with least traffic intensity to the hour of greatest traffic, the variation can exceed 100:1. Figure 4.1 shows a typical hour-to-hour traffic variation for a serving switch in the United States. It can be seen that the busiest period, the busy hour (BH), is between 10 A.M. and 11 A.M. (The busy hour from the viewpoint of grade of service was introduced in Section 1.3.4). From one workday to the next, originating BH calls can vary as much as 25%. To these fairly “regular” variations, there are also unpredictable peaks caused by stock market or money market activity, weather, natural disaster, international events, sporting events, and so on. Normal traffic growth must also be taken into account.

Nevertheless, suitable forecasts of BH traffic can be made. However, before proceeding further in this discussion, consider the following definitions of the busy hour.

1. Busy Hour. The busy hour refers to the traffic volume or number of call attempts, and is that continuous one-hour period being wholly in the time interval concerned for which this quantity (i.e., traffic volume or call attempts) is greatest.

2. The Average Busy Season Busy Hour (ABSBH). This is used for trunk groups and always has a grade of service2 criterion applied. For example, for the ABSBH load, a call requiring a circuit in a trunk group should encounter all trunks busy (ATB) no more than 1% of the time.

Other definitions of the busy hour may be found in Ref. 1.

When dimensioning telephone exchanges and transmission routes, we shall be working with BH traffic levels and care must be used in the definition of the busy hour.

Peak traffic loads are of greater concern than average loads for the system planner when dimensioning switching equipment.

 Another concern in modern digital switching systems is call attempts. We could say that call attempts is synonymous with offered traffic. Even though a call is not carried and is turned away, the switch’s processor or computer is still exercised. In many instances a switch’s capability to route traffic is limited by the peak number of call attempts its processor can handle.

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