Introduction to Transmission Loss Engineering

One major aspect of transmission system design for a telephone network is to establish a transmission-loss plan. Such a plan, when implemented, is formulated to accomplish three goals:

1. Control singing (stability).

2. Keep echo levels within limits tolerable to the subscriber.

3. Provide an acceptable overall loudness rating to the subscriber.

From preceding discussions we have much of the basic background necessary to develop a transmission-loss plan. We know the following:

• A certain minimum loss must be maintained in four-wire circuits to ensure against singing.

• Up to a certain limit of round-trip delay, echo may be controlled by adding loss (i.e., inserting attenuators, sometimes called pads).

• It is desirable to limit these losses as much as possible, to improve the loudness rating of a connection.

National transmission plans vary considerably. Obviously the length of a circuit is important, as well as the velocity of propagation of the transmission media involved.

Velocity of Propagation. A signal takes a finite amount of time to traverse from point A to point B over a specific transmission medium. In free space, radio signals travel at 3 x 108 m/sec or 186,000 mi/sec; fiber-optic light guide, about 2 x 108 m/sec or about 125,000 mi/sec; on heavily loaded wire-pair cable, about 0.22 x 108 m/sec or 14,000 mi/sec; and 19-gauge nonloaded wire-pair cable, about 0.8 x 108 m/sec or 50,000 mi/sec. So we see that the velocity of propagation is very dependent on the types of transmission media being employed to carry a signal.

Distances covered by network connectivities are in hundreds or thousands of miles (or kilometers). It is thus of interest to convert velocities of propagation to miles or kilometers per millisecond. Let's use a typical value for carrier (multiplex) systems of 105,000 mi/sec or 105 mi/msec (169 km/msec).

First let's consider a country of small geographic area such as Belgium, which could have a very simple transmission-loss plan. Assume that the 4-dB minimum loss for singing is inserted in all four-wire circuits. Based on Figure 8.19, a 4-dB loss will allow up to 4 msec of round-trip delay. By simple arithmetic, we see that a 4-dB loss on all four-wire circuits will make echo tolerable for all circuits extending 210 mi (338 km) (i.e., 2 x 105). This could be an application of a fixed-loss type transmission plan. In the case of small countries or telephone companies covering a rather small geographic expanse, the minimum loss to control singing controls echo as well for the entire system.

Let us try another example. Assume that all four-wire connections have a 7-dB loss. Figure 8.20 indicates that 7 dB permits an 11-msec round-trip delay. Again assume that the velocity of propagation is 105,000 mi/sec. Remember that we are dealing with round-trip delay. The talker's voice reaches the far-end hybrid and some of the signal is reflected back to the talker. This means that the signal traverses the system twice, as shown in Figure 8.20. Thus 7 dB of loss for the given velocity of propagation allows about 578 mi (925 km) of extension or, for all intents and purposes, the distance between subscribers, and will satisfy the loss requirements with a country of maximum extension of 578 mi (925 km).

It is interesting to note that the talker's signal is attenuated only 7 dB toward the distant-end listener; but the reflected signal is not only attenuated the initial 7 dB, but attenuated by 7 dB still again, on its return trip.

It has become evident by now that we cannot continue increasing losses indefinitely to compensate for echo on longer circuits. Most telephone companies and administrations have set a 45- or 50-msec round-trip delay criterion, which sets a top figure above which echo suppressors are to be used. One major goal of the transmission-loss plan is to improve overall loudness rating or to apportion more loss to the subscriber plant so that subscriber loops can be longer or to allow the use of less copper (i.e., smaller-diameter conductors). The question arises as to what measures can be taken to reduce losses and still keep echo within tolerable limits. One obvious target is to improve return losses at the hybrids. If all hybrid return losses are improved, the echo tolerance curve shifts; this is because improved return losses reduce the intensity of the echo returned to the talker. Thus the talker is less annoyed by the echo effect.

One way of improving return loss is to make all two-wire lines out of the hybrid look alike—that is, have the same impedance. The switch at the other end of the hybrid (i.e., on the two-wire side) connects two-wire loops of varying length, thus causing the resulting impedances to vary greatly. One approach is to extend four-wire transmission to the local office such that each hybrid can be better balanced. This is being carried out with success in Japan. The U.S. Department of Defense has its Autovon (automatic voice network), in which every subscriber line is operated on a four-wire basis. Two-wire subscribers connect through the system via PABXs (private automatic branch exchanges).

As networks evolve to all-digital, four-wire transmission is carried directly through the local serving switch such that subscriber loops terminate through a hybrid directly to a PCM channel bank. Hybrid return losses could now be notably improved by adjusting the balancing network for its dedicated subscriber loop.

Figure 8.20 Example of echo round-trip delay (5.5 + 5.5 = 11-msec round-trip delay).

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