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Comparison of Analog and Digital Technology

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Comparison of Analog and Digital Technology


The process of Analog to Digital Conversion starts with the transmission of the original information, followed by the modulation and then reception at the receiver and making sure that there is no factor of signal degradation and noise. “The binary signal is made up of two symbols namely binary digits or bits 1 and 0. If there is no influence of noise and distortion during transmission, the binary information will be the same. The change in the signal is being measure at the receiver. Encoding is needless if the information to be transferred has already been converted in binary form just like in data communications. In contrary, voice communication through telephone is not in binary form. These are analog signals that vary in range of values and therefore must be converted to digital form before it is being used in digital communications system.” (T. T. (2011).

Digital signal to analog signal conversions involve the use of DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converters). DAC accepts the discrete binary values and converts them into continuously-varying values of analog signal. This conversion may affect the fidelity of the signal if the process was not properly monitored. Analog telephone lines, most commonly called POTS lines, uses separate lines (e.g. standard phone and fax lines, alarm lines, etc.) from the digital equipment lines (e.g. PBX). The use of modem for computer’s connection to the internet is one of the best examples of conversion from analog to digital signals using standard phone line.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Common Modulation Techniques

Amplitude Modulation (AM)


- Amplitude Modulation (AM) covers wider area than Frequency Modulation (FM) due to atmospheric propagation - Amplitude Modulation (AM) is simpler and is less expensive than Frequency Modulation (FM)


- Amplitude Modulation (AM) uses twice the bandwidth of the modulating signal and is therefore wasteful. - Amplitude Modulation (AM) consumes a lot of power for transmission of both the carrier and sidebands compare to other techniques - Amplitude Modulation (AM) is more vulnerable to noise and interference from other components of the communication system Frequency Modulation (FM)


- Frequency Modulation (FM) is utilizing and radiating less amount of power - Frequency Modulation (FM) is less vulnerable to noise and interference from other components of the communication system - Frequency Modulation (FM) is more popular than the other because it has more coverage


- Frequency Modulation (FM) is expensive due to its requirement of more equipment used in the system - Frequency Modulation (FM) has very complicated circuitry and system architecture - Frequency Modulation (FM) requires LOS (line-of-sight) communication to work properly - Frequency Modulation (FM) is more vulnerable to attenuation of signal Phase Modulation (PM) is a counterpart of Frequency Modulation (FM) but

not as popularly used.


- Phase Modulation (PM) is an easier technique in terms of modulation and demodulation as compared with Frequency Modulation (FM) - Phase Modulation (PM) is specially used in determining the velocity of a moving target by getting the Doppler info


- Phase Modulation (PM) has been having problems when the transition index exceeds pi (π) rad (180 degrees) - Phase Modulation (PM) needs an additional circuitry called frequency multiplier so that the phase modulation index can be maximized - Phase Modulation (PM) has very complex hardware requirements

Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM)


- Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) can transmit multiple signals using just one carrier. - Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) makes transmission become faster than the other techniques because both the amplitude and phase vary.


- Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) is also very vulnerable to noise and interference from the other parts of the communication system - Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) uses more energy as it requires to have a linear amplifier

Applications of Modern Modulation Techniques

As the need for communication systems to improve in terms of throughput and quality continue to arise, so is the coming of newer modulation techniques. It takes many years for a technology to be developed but just as one technology is being developed, newer ones are already being introduced to the market almost each new technologies carrier its own new modulation techniques. Development of new modulation techniques, not to disregard the importance of hardware development, seemed to get more significance when it comes to advancement in the communication technology.


V.90 (56 kbps) modem becomes one of the major milestones in area of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) during the time of dial-up connections. With high-speed modems already available, after V.90 has existed for a decade, V.90 modems are still used in terms of reliability. This type of modem uses PAM (Pulse Amplitude Modulation) that consists of 8000 symbols per second coded from seven out of eight bits PCM word, which results to 128 amplitude levels of modulated signal. V.90 modem’s upstream is only limited to 33.6 kbps (same with V.34).


Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Lines (ADSL) was another milestone in the field of communication as it upgraded the connectivity of each consumer while reusing and retaining the existing twisted pair phone lines that every household in America is expected to have. Combination of modulation techniques made this dial-up to DSL innovation possible. In the early stage of ADSL, CAP (Carrierless Amplitude Phase), which was a modification of QAM and was developed by AT&T, was used. Eventually, CAP was replaced by DMT (Discrete Multi-tone Modulation), which is now the universally accepted standardized ADSL modulation technique.

As a form of multicarrier modulation, DMT divides the allotted bandwidth into smaller bandwidth or sub-channels, each of which is using QAM on a separate carrier, to maximize the throughput. In DMT for ADSL, the downstream bandwidth is divided into 4.3125 kHz wide channels and the upstream bandwidth is also divided into 32 4.3125 kHz wide channels (Alturayef & Rodriguez, 2007). This results to about 8.1 Mbps downstream and 1.5mbps upstream throughput. Remebers that ADSL uses the existing POTS lines so it has to exist together with POTS. For ADSL and POTS to functions properly, the first six channels are allotted for voice signal.


IEEE 802.11 standard is more popular known as Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity). It was considered as one of the biggest leaps in the modern personal connectivity. The key player on this technology was again the modulation technique used. Innovation on the modulation techniques lead to the improvement of 802.11’s original throughput of 1 to 2 Mbps to today’s 802.11n’s throughput of 504 Mbps. 802.11b was the first widely-adopted Wi-Fi standard operating in the 2.4 GHz frequency. 802.11b used Direct Spread Spectrum Sequencing (DSSS) to reach its top speed of 11Mbps. DSSS is also found in CDMA cellular networks and GPSs, and Complementary Code Keying (CCK) (Bhatia, 2007). Similar in modulation techniques with ADSL, CCK consists of 64 eight-bit channels.

Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which is still being improved today, is the modulation technique used by 802.11a. Operating in the 5GHz spectrum, the process splits each of its eight available channels (each 20MHz wide) into multiple sub-channels which is able to transmit independently from one another. 802.11a did not last that long because it was not suited 802.11b which is already successfully operating. As an effect, 802.11a was succeeded.

OFDM was also used by 802.11g (operates at 2.4 GHz), but the good thing about it was that it was backward compatible with the existing 802.11b, unlike the succeeded 802.11a. Similar with 802.11a, 802.11g transmits a four-microsecond symbol with an interval of 800 nanoseconds, with a full transmission rate of 54Mbps, each symbol containing 288 bits which includes 72 error correction bits, and is managed by using 64-QAM on each of the subcarriers with a ¾ rate encoder (Cisco, 2011).

OFDM technique was carried over and used by the latest 802.11 standard which is 802.11n, and it is still being developed to any possibilities of better performance. 802.11n uses a 5/6-rate encoder and additional subcarriers per channel. 802.11n was able to increase the data rate to a maximum of 65 Mbps under normal condition (no barriers and interferences) using the same 20MHz-wide channels like 802.11a/g. 802.11n can reach a maximum throughput of 260 MHz by transmitting four channels of 20 MHz simultaneously. In addition, the 802.11n standard also features 40 MHz channels and available 108 subcarriers that bring a maximum data rate of all four channels to an outstanding 540Mbps. This only proves the unstoppable development in modulation that has happened and can happen in the future.

Hierarchy of T(X) and SONET

SONET (Synchronous Optical Networking) is a standard multiplexing protocol that transmits multiple trains of binary information through optical fiber (fiber optics cable) using either laser or LEDs (Light-emitting Diodes). Less transmission rates are required in this optical transmission of information. TL1 is the protocol used by SONET equipment, which is a telecommunication language used for configuring and programming of SONET network elements.

The following are some of the key advantages of SONET:

- High-capacity fiber optic transport - System of synchronous signal level - High-level of OAM&P (Operations, Administration, Maintenance, and Provisioning) capability - Automatic protection switching - High-degree of interoperability between different vendor platforms - Offers fault tolerance and reliability. - Lower network costs

The following are some of the key disadvantages of SONET:

- It is not used for daily internet needs - It is basically used for high-speed network backbones by the carrier networks such as Verizon, Cox, and Comcast - Requires stricter synchronization schemes - It is very much expensive because of the fact that it uses Fiber Optics and because of its complex and other costly equipment.

Aside from SONET, there is also T(X), where X can be a number from 1 to 3 (normally) used to name the data lines (e.g. T1, T3, etc.). T(X) uses digital signal transmission to transfer data from point to point or from point to multipoint communication channels. Unlike in SONET that uses optical fiber, these lines can pass information through copper wire or wireless. To be able to transmit data, raw information like voice, image or text should be converted into digital data first or it will not be understood by the system. On the other side of the system, the receiver converts the digital data back to its original form. T(X) uses less bandwidth to transmit more information with the assurance of clearer and faster transmission compare to analog signal. As an example, “University of Phoenix” is spelled in binary code as follows:


The following are some of the advantages of using T(X):

- T3 lines can transmit a very huge amount of data - “T3 line has 672 different channels that allows 672 people to simultaneously browse the internet at a considerably high speed”(Theodorou, 2008). - T1 lines are fast at 1.5 Mbps and T3 lines provide even faster speed as high as 44.6 Mbps.

The following are some of the advantages of using T(X):

- “A networking company based in Olney, Maryland, the Data Connect Enterprise, tells that T3 bandwidth can cost as much as $15,000 per month”(Johnson, 2011) - T1 line costs $1,000 monthly already - T(X) lines require physical installation of the line when adding a dedicated lines for home and business.

In summary, these two communication line technologies are used primarily for business

purposes, by vendors and carriers – not for personal use. Besides, no individual needs the speed that SONET and T(X) offers just to browse through the internet. The cost of acquiring these technologies is actually justified by the purpose of why a company needs to have one of these lines.


Alturayef, M., Rodriguez, D.(2007).ADSL Technology, Retrieved January 13, 2012 from

Bhatia, A (2007) 802.11 Retrieved January 13th, from

Gao, F (1998) An Introduction to the V.90 (56K) Modem. January 13, 2012 from

KVEDARAS, R. R., KVEDARAS, V. V., & USTINAVICIUS, T. T. (2011). Retrieved

January 13, 2012 from Settling Time Testing of Fast DACs. Acta Physica Polonica,

A, 119(4), 521-527.

Johnson, J. (2011, July 11). What is t3 bandwidth?Retrieved January 13, 2012 from

Theodorou, V. (2008, April 30). T3 internet. Retrieved January 13, 2012 from…...

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