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The public switched telephone network (PSTN) is the aggregate of the world's circuit-switched telephone networks that are operated by national, regional, or local telephony operators, providing infrastructure and services for public telecommunication. The PSTN consists of telephone lines, fiber optic cables, microwave transmission links, cellular networks, communications satellites, and undersea telephone cables, all interconnected by switching centers, thus allowing most telephones to communicate with each other. Originally a network of fixed-line analog telephone systems, the PSTN is now almost entirely digital in its core network and includes mobileand other networks, as well as fixed telephones.
The technical operation of the PSTN adheres to the standards created by the ITU-T. These standards allow different networks in different countries to interconnect seamlessly. The E.163 and E.164 standards provide a single global address space for telephone numbers. The combination of the interconnected networks and the single numbering plan allow telephones around the world to dial each other.
Commercialization of the telephone began in 1876, with instruments operated in pairs for private use between two locations. Users who wanted to communicate with persons at multiple locations had as many telephones as necessary for the purpose. Alerting another user of the desire to establish a telephone call was accomplished by whistling loudly into the transmitter until the other party heard the alert. Bells were soon added to stations for signaling, so an attendant no longer needed to wait for the whistle.
Later telephones took advantage of the exchange principle already employed in telegraph networks. Each telephone was wired to a telephone exchange established for a town or area. For communications outside this exchange area, trunks were installed between exchanges. Networks were designed in a hierarchical manner until they spanned cities, countries, continents and oceans.
Automation introduced pulse dialing between the telephone and the exchange, so that each subscriber could directly dial another subscriber connected to the same exchange, but long-distance calling across multiple exchanges required manual switching by operators. Later, more sophisticated address signaling, including multi-frequency signaling methods, enabled direct-dialed long-distance calls by subscribers, culminating in the Signalling System 7 (SS7) network that controlled calls between most exchanges by the end of the 20th century.
The growth of the PSTN meant that teletraffic engineering techniques needed to be deployed to deliver quality of service (QoS) guarantees for the users. The work of A. K. Erlang established the mathematical foundations of methods required to determine the capacity requirements and configuration of equipment and the number of personnel required to deliver a specific level of service.
In the 1970s, the telecommunications industry began implementing packet-switched network data services using the X.25 protocol transported over much of the end-to-end equipment as was already in use in the PSTN.
In the 1980s, the industry began planning for digital services assuming they would follow much the same pattern as voice services, and conceived end-to-end circuit-switched services, known as the Broadband Integrated Services Digital Network (B-ISDN). The B-ISDN vision was overtaken by the disruptive technology of the Internet.
At the turn of the 21st century, the oldest parts of the telephone network still use analog technology for the last mile loop to the end user. However, digital technologies such as DSL, ISDN, FTTx, and cable modems have become more common in this portion of the network.
Several large private telephone networks are not linked to the PSTN, usually for military purposes. There are also private networks run by large companies which are linked to the PSTN only through limited gateways, such as a large private branch exchange (PBX).
The task of building the networks and selling services to customers fell to the network operators. The first company to be incorporated to provide PSTN services was the Bell Telephone Company in the United States.
In some countries, however, the job of providing telephone networks fell to government as the investment required was very large and the provision of telephone service was increasingly becoming an essential public utility. For example, the General Post Office in the United Kingdom brought together a number of private companies to form a single nationalized company. In more recent decades, these state monopolies were broken up or sold off through privatization.[ clarification needed ][ citation needed ]
In most countries, the central has a regulator dedicated to monitoring the provision of PSTN services in that country. Their tasks may be for example to ensure that end customers are not over-charged for services where monopolies may exist. These regulatory agencies may also regulate the prices charged between the operators to carry each other's traffic.
The PSTN network architecture had to evolve over the years to support increasing numbers of subscribers, calls, connections to other countries, direct dialing and so on. The model developed by the United States and Canada was adopted by other nations, with adaptations for local markets.
The original concept was that the telephone exchanges are arranged into hierarchies, so that if a call cannot be handled in a local cluster, it is passed to one higher up for onward routing. This reduced the number of connecting trunks required between operators over long distances and also kept local traffic separate.
However, in modern networks the cost of transmission and equipment is lower and, although hierarchies still exist, they are much flatter, with perhaps only two layers.
Most automated telephone exchanges use digital switching rather than mechanical or analog switching. The trunks connecting the exchanges are also digital, called circuits or channels. However analog two-wire circuits are still used to connect the last mile from the exchange to the telephone in the home (also called the local loop). To carry a typical phone call from a calling party to a called party, the analog audio signal is digitized at an 8 kHz sample rate with 8-bit resolution using a special type of nonlinear pulse code modulation known as G.711. The call is then transmitted from one end to another via telephone exchanges. The call is switched using a call set up protocol (usually ISUP) between the telephone exchanges under an overall routing strategy.
The call is carried over the PSTN using a 64 kbit/s channel, originally designed by Bell Labs. The name given to this channel is Digital Signal 0 (DS0). The DS0 circuit is the basic granularity of circuit switching in a telephone exchange. A DS0 is also known as a timeslot because DS0s are aggregated in time-division multiplexing (TDM) equipment to form higher capacity communication links.
A Digital Signal 1 (DS1) circuit carries 24 DS0s on a North American or Japanese T-carrier (T1) line, or 32 DS0s (30 for calls plus two for framing and signaling) on an E-carrier (E1) line used in most other countries. In modern networks, the multiplexing function is moved as close to the end user as possible, usually into cabinets at the roadside in residential areas, or into large business premises.
These aggregated circuits are conveyed from the initial multiplexer to the exchange over a set of equipment collectively known as the access network. The access network and inter-exchange transport use synchronous optical transmission, for example, SONET and Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) technologies, although some parts still use the older PDH technology.
Within the access network, there are a number of reference points defined. Most of these are of interest mainly to ISDN but one – the V reference point – is of more general interest. This is the reference point between a primary multiplexer and an exchange. The protocols at this reference point were standardized in ETSI areas as the V5 interface.
Voice quality over PSTN networks was used as the benchmark for the development of the Telecommunications Industry Association's TIA-TSB-116 standard on voice-quality recommendations for IP telephony, to determine acceptable levels of audio delay and echo.
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is a set of communication standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional circuits of the public switched telephone network. Work on the standard began in 1980 at Bell Labs and was formally standarized in 1988 in the CCITT "Red Book". By the time the standard was released, newer networking system with much greater speeds were available, and ISDN saw relatively little uptake in the wider market. One estimate suggests ISDN use peaked at a worldwide total of 25 million subscribers at a time when 1.3 billion analog lines were in use. ISDN has largely been replaced with digital subscriber line (DSL) systems of much higher performance.
The 5ESS Switching System is a Class 5 telephone electronic switching system developed by Western Electric for the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) and the Bell System in the United States. It came into service in 1982, and updated versions are still produced today.
Circuit switching is a method of implementing a telecommunications network in which two network nodes establish a dedicated communications channel (circuit) through the network before the nodes may communicate. The circuit guarantees the full bandwidth of the channel and remains connected for the duration of the communication session. The circuit functions as if the nodes were physically connected as with an electrical circuit. Circuit switching contrasts with message switching and packet switching.
Digital subscriber line is a family of technologies that are used to transmit digital data over telephone lines. In telecommunications marketing, the term DSL is widely understood to mean asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL), the most commonly installed DSL technology, for Internet access.
Time-division multiplexing (TDM) is a method of transmitting and receiving independent signals over a common signal path by means of synchronized switches at each end of the transmission line so that each signal appears on the line only a fraction of time in an alternating pattern. This method transmits two or more digital signals or analog signals over a common channel. It can be used when the bit rate of the transmission medium exceeds that of the signal to be transmitted. This form of signal multiplexing was developed in telecommunications for telegraphy systems in the late 19th century, but found its most common application in digital telephony in the second half of the 20th century.
Telephony is the field of technology involving the development, application, and deployment of telecommunication services for the purpose of electronic transmission of voice, fax, or data, between distant parties. The history of telephony is intimately linked to the invention and development of the telephone.
In modern telephony a remote concentrator, remote concentrator unit (RCU), or remote line concentrator (RLC) is a concentrator at the lowest level in the telephone switch hierarchy.
V5 is a family of telephone network protocols defined by ETSI which allow communications between the telephone exchange, also known in the specifications as the local exchange (LE), and the local loop. With potentially thousands of subscribers connected to the LE there is the problem of physically managing thousands of wires out to the local subscribers. Prior to the specification of V5 the manufacturers of exchange equipment had proprietary solutions to the problem. These solutions did not inter-operate and meant being tied into a single manufacturer's method at each exchange.
Signaling System No. 7 (SS7) is a set of telephony signaling protocols developed in 1975, which is used to set up and tear down telephone calls in most parts of the world-wide public switched telephone network (PSTN). The protocol also performs number translation, local number portability, prepaid billing, Short Message Service (SMS), and other services.
Plain old telephone service (POTS), or plain ordinary telephone service, is a retronym for voice-grade telephone service employing analog signal transmission over copper loops. POTS was the standard service offering from telephone companies from 1876 until 1988 in the United States when the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) Basic Rate Interface (BRI) was introduced, followed by cellular telephone systems, and voice over IP (VoIP). POTS remains the basic form of residential and small business service connection to the telephone network in many parts of the world. The term reflects the technology that has been available since the introduction of the public telephone system in the late 19th century, in a form mostly unchanged despite the introduction of Touch-Tone dialing, electronic telephone exchanges and fiber-optic communication into the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
A digital subscriber line access multiplexer is a network device, often located in telephone exchanges, that connects multiple customer digital subscriber line (DSL) interfaces to a high-speed digital communications channel using multiplexing techniques.
The ISDN User Part or ISUP is part of Signaling System No. 7 (SS7), which is used to set up telephone calls in the public switched telephone network (PSTN). It is specified by the ITU-T as part of the Q.76x series.
A business telephone system is a multiline telephone system typically used in business environments, encompassing systems ranging in technology from the key telephone system (KTS) to the private branch exchange (PBX).
Direct inward dialling (DID), also called direct dial-in (DDI) in Europe and Oceania, is a telecommunication service offered by telephone companies to subscribers who operate a private branch exchange (PBX) system. The feature provides service for multiple telephone numbers over one or more analog or digital physical circuits to the PBX, and transmits the dialed telephone number to the PBX so that a PBX extension is directly accessible for an outside caller, possibly by-passing an auto-attendant.
A dial plan establishes the permitted sequences of digits dialed on subscriber or station lines with subscriber premises equipment, such as telephones and private branch exchange (PBX) systems. Dialing plans in the public switch telephone network (PSTN) have traditionally been more commonly referred to as dialing procedures. The dialing plan of a private telephone system or a customer premise equipment, such as an analog telephone adapter (ATA) or an IP phone, is sometimes also called dial plan. The digit sequences (numbers) permissible in a dialing plan may be as short as a single digit, e.g. for reaching an operator, or as long as a complete international telephone number, including trunk prefixes and international prefixes.
In telecommunication, supervision is the monitoring of a telecommunication circuit for telephony to convey to an operator, user, or a switching system, information about the operational state of the circuit. The typical operational states of trunks and lines are the idle and busy states, seizure, and disconnect. The states are indicated by various electrical signals and electrical conditions depending of the type of circuit, the type of terminating equipment, and the type of intended service.
Via Net Loss (VNL) is a network architecture of telephone systems using circuit switching technologies deployed in the 1950s with Direct Distance Dialing and used until the late 1980s. The purpose of the VNL plan and a five-level long-distance switching hierarchy was to minimize the number of trunk circuits used during a call and maximize the voice quality achieved on each circuit. Excessive noise or loss meant that subscribers may have difficulty hearing each other. This was particularly important in the 1960s when dial-up data applications were developed using analog modems. The five levels of PSTN switching systems used with VNL were:
A PSTN network topology is the switching network topology of a telephone network connected to the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
A telephone exchange or telephone switch is a telecommunications system used in the public switched telephone network or in large enterprises. It interconnects telephone subscriber lines or virtual circuits of digital systems to establish telephone calls between subscribers.