The most widely accepted form of data communications – Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) – is finding itself poised for replacement. With so many more forms of communications technology becoming IP compatible, many corporations are moving to upgrade their systems to compensate. The end date for TDM is not tomorrow but it is coming. The father of it all was the T1 broadband, or DSL, system, based on a 2-pair copper wire pattern that transmitted data along set routes. The follow-ups have been more advanced T1 systems, the T3, DS3, 3DS3 and OC-3, which introduces the now more recognizable fiber optic cable system. These systems still rely on TDM to transfer data from any source to its intended destination.
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Image courtesy: PI Manufacturing[/caption]
Modern Data Communication
The newest form of data communication now is IP, or Ethernet. Ethernet has proven to be more scalable, allowing for a wide range of bandwidth, and doing so at a manageable cost. It takes advantage of the existing broadband technology to transmit information while providing an alternative, wireless component that allows even more data to move from one location to the next. TDM was designed for voice calls and held a fixed propagation delay, due to the fixed length, twisted copper bands originally used and the overall amount of data moving through it. Ethernet uses packet-based networking to increase the volume of data with minimal latency, or delay, in delivery.
TDM has a constant latency that is predictable and manageable using microwave technology. Ethernet has no fixed delay, making it less controllable, though more reliable with the growing use of large information media, such as the internet and WiFi. So, TDM still proves the better system when it comes to voice calls, while Ethernet shows its value in large packet delivery.
Transitioning from TDM to Ethernet
As companies slowly grow, they’re integrating Ethernet technology
with the original TDM matrix, creating a hybrid of sorts, which has the fixed delay that works with person-to-person contact, and still delivers large amounts of data, all along the same media.
If you’re looking, it’s important to take these steps and considerations:
- Begin integrating existing lines with microwave radios that are Ethernet compatible but carry native TDM. This will minimize operational costs while using existing equipment to meet a growing need. It also allows for later expansion as bandwidth grows.
- Slowly move LAN traffic from TDM to Ethernet, allowing for long term scalability. It’s better to have the potential exist in the system rather than need it and have to upgrade and replace equipment to compensate.
- Move voice traffic to Voice-Over Internet Protocols (VoIP). This still uses TDM technology while slowly replacing the trunk lines with Ethernet tie-ins. It lowers costs and adds scalability.
- Move real-time traffic to full IP. This needs no delay and the Ethernet can handle the volume without overwhelming the voice traffic by using the same lines.
Packet-based networks are here to stay and traffic of all types is moving over them. The trend toward unified packet-based communications is also apparent. Regardless of whether the need to upgrade is immediate or a few years away, packet-based systems deliver low latency, high availability and are cost effective.
IP-based systems also deliver better value than just using TDM, so the issue isn’t about speed but efficiently upgrading to meet your needs and doing so properly and smoothly. As always, look for well qualified, capable professional service providers like SingleSource Communications with the right microwave radio equipment
compatible enough to support a smooth, trouble-free transition from TDM to IP. If you’re trying to decide if an upgrade is in your future, contact us today.