Definition

T-carrier system

To see the relationship between T-carrier, E-carrier, and DS0 multiples, see digital signal X.

The T-carrier system, introduced by the Bell System in the U.S. in the 1960s, was the first successful system that supported digitized voice transmission. The original transmission rate (1.544 Mbps) in the T1 line is in common use today in Internet service provider (ISP) connections to the Internet. Another level, the T3 line, providing 44.736 Mbps, is also commonly used by Internet service providers.

The T-carrier system is entirely digital, using pulse code modulation (PCM) and time-division multiplexing (TDM). The system uses four wires and provides duplex capability (two wires for receiving and two for sending at the same time). The T1 digital stream consists of 24 64-Kbps channels that are multiplexed. (The standardized 64 Kbps channel is based on the bandwidth required for a voice conversation.) The four wires were originally a pair of twisted pair copper wires, but can now also include coaxial cable, optical fiber, digital microwave, and other media. A number of variations on the number and use of channels are possible.

A T1 line in which each channel serves a different application is known as integrated T1 or channelized T1. Another commonly installed service is a fractional T1, which is the rental of some portion of the 24 channels in a T1 line, with the other channels going unused.

In the T1 system, voice or other analog signals are sampled 8,000 times a second and each sample is digitized into an 8-bit word. With 24 channels being digitized at the same time, a 192-bit frame (24 channels each with an 8-bit word) is thus being transmitted 8,000 times a second. Each frame is separated from the next by a single bit, making a 193-bit block. The 192 bit frame multiplied by 8,000 and the additional 8,000 framing bits make up the T1's 1.544 Mbps data rate. The signaling bits are the least significant bits in each frame.

You can compare these rates with those of other carrier technologies by seeing the data rates in The speed of....

Contributor(s): Carol Cartier and Tom Payne
This was last updated in July 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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