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Digital Signal 1

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Title: Digital Signal 1  
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Subject: T-carrier, E-carrier, Leased line, Digital Signal 0, Registered jack
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Digital Signal 1

Digital Signal 1 (DS1, sometimes DS-1) is a T-carrier signaling scheme devised by Bell Labs.[1] DS1 is a widely used standard in telecommunications in North America and Japan to transmit voice and data between devices. E-carrier is used in place of T-carrier outside North America, Japan, and South Korea. DS1 is the logical bit pattern used over a physical T1 line; however, the terms "DS1" and "T1" are often used interchangeably.


  • Bandwidth 1
  • DS1 frame synchronization 2
  • Connectivity and alarms 3
    • Alarms 3.1
  • Inband T1 versus T1 PRI 4
  • Origin of name 5
  • Alternative technologies 6
  • Semiconductor 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes and references 9


A DS1 telecommunication circuit is made up of twenty-four 8-bit channels (also known as timeslots or DS0s), each channel being a 64 kbit/s DS0 multiplexed carrier circuit.[2] A DS1 is also a full-duplex circuit, which means the circuit transmits and receives 1.544 Mbit/s concurrently. A total of 1.536 Mbit/s of bandwidth is achieved by sampling each of the twenty-four 8-bit DS0s 8000 times per second. This sampling is referred to as 8-kHz sampling (See Pulse-code modulation). An additional 8 kbit/s of overhead is obtained from the placement of one framing bit, for a total of 1.544 Mbit/s, calculated as follows:

\begin{align} & \left( 8\,\frac{\mathrm{bits}}{\mathrm{channel}} \times 24\,\frac{\mathrm{channels}}{\mathrm{frame}} + 1\,\frac{\mathrm{framing\ bit}}{\mathrm{frame}} \right) \times 8\,000\,\frac{\mathrm{frames}}{\mathrm{second}} \\ = {} & 1\,544\,000\,\frac{\mathrm{bits}}{\mathrm{second}} \\ = {} & 1.544\,\frac{\mathrm{Mbit}}{\mathrm{second}} \end{align}

DS1 frame synchronization

Frame synchronization is necessary to identify the timeslots within each 24-channel frame. Synchronization takes place by allocating a framing, or 193rd, bit. This results in 8 kbit/s of framing data, for each DS1. Because this 8-kbit/s channel is used by the transmitting equipment as overhead, only 1.536 Mbit/s is actually passed on to the user. Two types of framing schemes are superframe (SF) and extended superframe (ESF). A superframe consists of twelve consecutive 193-bit frames, whereas an extended superframe consists of twenty-four consecutive 193-bit frames of data. Due to the unique bit sequences exchanged, the framing schemes are not compatible with each other. These two types of framing (SF, and ESF) use their 8 kbit/s framing channel in different ways.

Connectivity and alarms

Connectivity refers to the ability of the digital carrier to carry customer data from either end to the other. In some cases, the connectivity may be lost in one direction and maintained in the other. In all cases, the terminal equipment, i.e., the equipment that marks the endpoints of the DS1, defines the connection by the quality of the received framing pattern.


Alarms are normally produced by the receiving terminal equipment when the framing is compromised. There are three defined alarm indication signal states, identified by a legacy color scheme: red, yellow and blue.

Red alarm indicates the alarming equipment is unable to recover the framing reliably. Corruption or loss of the signal will produce “red alarm”. Connectivity has been lost toward the alarming equipment. There is no knowledge of connectivity toward the far end.

Yellow alarm, also known as remote alarm indication (RAI), indicates reception of a data or framing pattern that reports the far end is in “red alarm”. The alarm is carried differently in SF (D4) and ESF (D5) framing. For SF framed signals, the user bandwidth is manipulated and "bit two in every DS0 channel shall be a zero."[3] The resulting loss of payload data while transmitting a yellow alarm is undesirable, and was resolved in ESF framed signals by using the data link layer. "A repeating 16-bit pattern consisting of eight 'ones' followed by eight 'zeros' shall be transmitted continuously on the ESF data link, but may be interrupted for a period not to exceed 100-ms per interruption."[3] Both types of alarms are transmitted for the duration of the alarm condition, but for at least one second.

Blue alarm, also known as alarm indication signal (AIS) indicates a disruption in the communication path between the terminal equipment and line repeaters or DCS. If no signal is received by the intermediary equipment, it produces an unframed, all-ones signal. The receiving equipment displays a “red alarm” and sends the signal for “yellow alarm” to the far end because it has no framing, but at intermediary interfaces the equipment will report “AIS” or Alarm Indication Signal. AIS is also called “all ones” because of the data and framing pattern.

These alarm states are also lumped under the term Carrier Group Alarm (CGA). The meaning of CGA is that connectivity on the digital carrier has failed. The result of the CGA condition varies depending on the equipment function. Voice equipment typically coerces the robbed bits for signaling to a state that will result in the far end properly handling the condition, while applying an often different state to the customer equipment connected to the alarmed equipment. Simultaneously, the customer data is often coerced to a 0x7F pattern, signifying a zero-voltage condition on voice equipment. Data equipment usually passes whatever data may be present, if any, leaving it to the customer equipment to deal with the condition.

Inband T1 versus T1 PRI

Additionally, for voice T1s there are two main types: so-called "plain" or Inband T1s and PRI (Primary Rate Interface). While both carry voice telephone calls in similar fashion, PRIs are commonly used in call centers and provide not only the 23 actual usable telephone lines (Known as "B" channels for bearer) but also a 24th line (Known as the "D" channel for data[4]) that carries line signaling information. This special "D" channel carries: Caller ID (CID) and automatic number identification (ANI) data, required channel type (usually a B, or Bearer channel), call handle, Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS) info, requested channel number and a request for response.[5]

Inband T1s are also capable of carrying CID and ANI information if they are configured by the carrier to do so but PRIs handle this more efficiently. While an inband T1 seemingly has a slight advantage due to 24 lines being available to make calls (as opposed to a PRI that has 23), each channel in an inband T1 must perform its own setup and tear-down of each call. A PRI uses the 24th channel as a data channel to perform all the overhead operations of the other 23 channels (including CID and ANI). Although an inband T1 has 24 channels, the 23 channel PRI can set up more calls faster due to the dedicated 24th signalling channel (D Channel).

Origin of name

The name T1 came from the carrier letter assigned by AT&T to the technology. Essentially, the "T" is a part number that was assigned by AT&T. Just as there is the generally known L-carrier and N-carrier systems, T-carrier was the next letter available and T1 is the first level in the hierarchy. DS-1 meant "Digital Service – Level 1", and had to do with the service to be sent (originally 24 digitized voice channels over the T1). The terms T1 and DS1 have become synonymous and include a plethora of different services from voice to data to clear-channel pipes. The line speed is always consistent at 1.54 Mbit/s, but the payload can vary greatly.

Alternative technologies

Dark fiber: Dark fiber refers to unused fibers, available for use. Dark fiber has been, and still is, available for sale on the wholesale market for both metro and wide area links, but it may not be available in all markets or city pairs.

Dark fiber capacity is typically used by network operators to build SONET and dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) networks, usually involving meshes of self-healing rings. Now, it is also used by end-user enterprises to expand Ethernet local area networks, especially since the adoption of IEEE standards for gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet over single-mode fiber. Running Ethernet networks between geographically separated buildings is a practice known as "WAN elimination".

DSIC is a digital signal equivalent to two Digital Signal 1, with extra bits to conform to a signaling standard of 3.152 Mbit/s. Few (if any) of these circuit capacities are still in use today. In the early days of digital and data transmission, the 3-Mbit/s data rate was used to link mainframe computers together. The physical side of this circuit is called TIC.


The T1/E1 protocol is implemented as a "line interface unit" in silicon. The semiconductor chip contains a decoder/encoder, loop backs, jitter attenuators, receivers, and drivers. Additionally, there are usually multiple interfaces and they are labeled as dual, quad, octal, etc., depending upon the number.

The transceiver chip's primary purpose is to retrieve information from the "line", i.e., the conductive line that transverses distance, by receiving the pulses and converting the signal which has been subjected to noise, jitter, and other interference, to a clean digital pulse on the other interface of the chip.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Brett Glass (September 1996). "How Bell Ran in Digital Communications".  
  2. ^ Just Circuits – T1 Made Simple
  3. ^ a b American National Standards Institute, T1.403-1999, Network and Customer Installation Interfaces – DS1 Electrical Interface, p. 12
  4. ^ Versadial, Call Recording Terms/Definitions, last accessed 8 June 2015
  5. ^ Newton, H: "Newton's telecom dictionary", page 225. CMP books, 2004
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