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Module ICE-4411:
Broadband Comms Systems

Module Facts

Run by School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Roger Giddings

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims to provide students with an in-depth understanding of current and emerging broadband communications techniques employed in local, access and core networks. Particular emphasis will be focused on the following aspects: 1) fundamental concepts, 2) operating principles and practice of widely implemented communications systems; 3) importance of emerging techniques and technologies and 4) requirements and challenges for future deployment of broadband communications systems.

Course content

Indicative content includes:

  • Fundamentals
  • Digital and analogue signal concepts in both the time and frequency domains
  • circuit and packet switching
  • transmission channel properties
  • digital line codes
  • carrier modulation/demodulation
  • transmission media
  • transmitter and receiver architectures
  • Shannon’s Law
  • key factors affecting transmission performance
  • multiplexing and multiple access methods (TDM
  • FDM
  • WDM
  • FDMA
  • TDMA)
  • The OSI reference model
  • general network architectures of communication systems.
  • The Core Network
  • Optical transmission systems
  • optical fibres (light propagation
  • loss
  • dispersion effects)
  • WDM and DWDM
  • PDH and SDH/SONET systems
  • network topologies.
  • Fixed Access Networks
  • Fixed access evolution
  • ADSL
  • VDSL
  • OFDM
  • Fibre-to-the-Home
  • Passive Optical Network (PON) evolution and standards
  • optical link budgets.
  • Mobile Access Networks
  • characteristics of mobile channels
  • the cellular principle
  • radio access technologies
  • radio access network architecture
  • mobile backhaul and fronthaul.
  • Local Area Networks
  • Fixed LANs (implementation evolution, cabling, Ethernet standards, MAC protocols, hubs/switches)
  • Wireless LANs (Wi-Fi standard, MAC Protocol, MIMO techniques)
  • Advanced/Emerging technologies
  • All-optical networking (ROADMs)
  • Ultra-fast Ethernet
  • Coherent Optical Transceivers
  • Technologies for 5G.

Assessment Criteria


Equivalent to the range 60%-69%. Is able to analyse a task or problem to decide which aspects of theory and knowledge to apply. Solutions are of a workable quality, demonstrating understanding of underlying principles. Major themes can be linked appropriately but may not be able to extend this to individual aspects. Outputs are readily understood, with an appropriate structure but may lack sophistication.


Equivalent to 50%. Uses key areas of theory or knowledge to meet the Learning Outcomes of the module. Is able to formulate an appropriate solution to accurately solve tasks and questions. Can identify individual aspects, but lacks an awareness of links between them and the wider contexts. Outputs can be understood, but lack structure and/or coherence.


Equivalent to the range 70%+. Assemble critically evaluated, relevent areas of knowledge and theory to constuct professional-level solutions to tasks and questions presented. Is able to cross-link themes and aspects to draw considered conclusions. Presents outputs in a cohesive, accurate, and efficient manner.

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand fundamental concepts, terminology and general architectures of communications systems.

  2. Critique emerging techniques and technologies for broadband communications.

  3. Apply key techniques to design a broadband communication system to a given specification.

  4. Combine appropriate theory and concepts to describe widely implemented communications systems.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Unseen final examination.

REPORT Technical Questions

Formal Report: A review of current & future Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) technologies for fixed access networks, using an IEEE paper format.

COURSEWORK Formal Report

Various technical questions designed to test both technical understanding and applying learnt knowledge to problem solving.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Worked problem sets and examples (4 x 1 hr sessions).


Traditional lecture (2 hours x 12 weeks).

Private study

Tutor-directed private study including individual assessments.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.

Subject specific skills

  • Identify emerging technologies and technology trends;
  • Access and synthesize information and literature sources;
  • Demonstrate an awareness of current advances and contemporary approaches in the discipline and have strategies for keeping that awareness current;
  • Knowledge and understanding of facts, concepts, principles & theories
  • Knowledge of systems architecture
  • Knowledge and/or understanding of appropriate scientific and engineering principles


Talis Reading list

Reading list

Recommended text books:

  • Lillian Goleniewski, "Telecommunications Essentials: The Complete Global Source", Addison Wesley; 2 edition (2006).
  • Andy Valdar, "Understanding Telecommunications Networks", IET (2006).
  • James Farmer et. al. "FTTx Networks: Technology Implementation and Operation", Morgan Kaufmann (2016)

Courses including this module