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Computer Science Department

ICT132: Networks and Digital Communications

Midsemester Exam – Time allowed: 2 hours

IMPORTANT: Make sure that your exam paper contains 4 pages and 3 questions.

Answer all 3 of the questions. Write your answers neatly on the separate paper provided,
clearly numbering your answers with the appropriate question numbers. Also write your
name and ID number at the top of each page. You may not use any notes, handouts or
textbooks. The maximum score is 75. Your mark from this examination will make up
25% of your final mark for this course.

Question 1 - Networking Fundamentals (total 29 marks)

a) Describe some advantages and disadvantages of using computer networks

Total 4 marks:
2 marks: Advantages – 1 mark each for any two of the following: sharing
data, sharing peripherals, sharing software, simplifies
2 marks: Disadvantages – 1 mark each for viruses, security of information

b) What is meant by the terms LAN, WAN, CAN and MAN? Give one example of

Total 4 marks:
1 mark: LAN = Local Area Network
1 mark: WAN = Wide Area Network
1 mark: CAN = Campus Area Network
1 mark: MAN = Metropolitan Area Network
(for each give ½ mark for name, ½ mark for example)

c) Describe what is meant by a network topology. What is the difference between a

physical topology and a logical topology? Illustrate your answer with an example.

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Total 6 marks:
2 marks: network topology = arrangement or physical layout of network
1 mark: physical topology = physical layout; logical topology = flow of
3 marks: description of token ring:
1 mark: physical topology = star
1 mark: logical topology = ring
1 mark: all data transmitted in token from computer to computer

d) Briefly describe, using diagrams, the four basic types of network topology.

Total 8 marks:
2 marks: Star
2 marks: Ring
2 marks: Bus
2 marks: Mesh
(for each, 1 mark for diagram, 1 mark for description)

e) Read the network design case study below and answer the questions following.

“A private IT college in Mekelle currently has 2 laboratories of 20 PCs, and 8 PCs

in offices for use by instructors and management. One of the instructors’ PCs has
a printer, and one of the managers’ computers has an Internet connection. The
instructors have course materials stored on their computers that they currently
have to print off and photocopy for their students. The college plans to expand
their student intake within the next year and intend to buy 20 extra PCs for
student use in the near future. The college management is considering networking
all of the PCs within the college and would like some advice on how to do this. A
moderate budget has been allocated for purchasing equipment and installing the

i) What potential benefits can you see from introducing a computer network in
this situation?

Total 2 marks:
1 mark each for any two from the following: sharing Internet connection,
sharing printer, sharing course materials, etc.

ii) Explain what type of network you would recommend for the situation. Say
whether you would recommend a client-server or peer-to-peer network, which
topology you would use, and what hardware (including cabling) will be

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required for your suggested solution. If you think you need more information
about the case study, state what information is required. Explain the reasons
for your choices.

Total 5 marks:
1 mark: client-server
1 mark: justification for client-server (e.g. >10 PCs, security, etc.)
1 mark: topology: star bus or star ring (or other if justification good)
1 mark: justification for topology (e.g. 1 hub for each lab)
1 mark: hardware (dependent on choice of topology)

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Question 2 – Networking Hardware (total 20 marks)

a) What are the three most common types of cabling used in computer networks?
Briefly describe each type.

Total 6 marks:
2 marks: twisted pair:
½ mark: physical components (twisted copper wire, shielding, outer cover)
½ mark: UTP and STP
½ mark: RJ45 connector
½ mark: common in star topology
2 marks: coaxial:
½ mark: physical components (copper core, insulation, copper/aluminium
mesh, outer cover)
½ mark: thicknet and thinnet
½ mark: BNC connector
½ mark: common in bus topology
2 marks: fibre-optic:
½ mark: physical components (optical fibre, glass cladding, outer cover)
½ mark: uses light instead of electric signal
½ mark: high-speed, low attenuation
½ mark: secure

b) Explain the purpose of a hub in computer networking. What are the three types of
hub? What is the difference between them?

Total 5 marks:
2 marks: purpose of hub:
1 mark: connects computers
1 mark: used in star topology
1 mark: active hub (½ mark for naming, ½ mark for description)
1 mark: passive hub (½ mark for naming, ½ mark for description)
1 mark: hybrid hub (½ mark for naming, ½ mark for description)

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c) Briefly describe the purpose and operation of a bridge, switch and router in
computer networking. What advantage do these devices have over devices such as
hubs and repeaters?

Total 5 marks:
1 mark: bridge connects subnets
1 mark: switch is like bridge but has multiple ports
1 mark: router is like switch but connects with different technologies
2 marks: advantage is that they only transmit required packets (reduce
network traffic)

d) What is meant by the term signal bounce? With what cable type is signal bounce
commonly associated?

Total 4 marks:
2 marks: signal bounce occurs when unterminated ends of cable
2 marks: associated with coaxial cable

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Question 3 – Data Communications (total 26 marks)

a) Explain the meaning of the terms modulation and demodulation.

Total 4 marks:
2 marks: modulation = convert from digital to analogue form
2 marks: demodulation = convert from analogue to digital form

b) Describe, using diagrams, 3 different techniques for transmitting digital data using
an analogue signal.

Total 6 marks:
2 marks for each technique (1 mark for diagram, 1 mark for explanation)

c) What is the relationship between the modulation rate of a signal (i.e. how many
times the signal changes per second) and the data transmission rate (i.e. how
many bits of data are transmitted per second)? Give an example of an encoding
scheme in which the two are different.

Total 5 marks:
1 mark for equation: D = R.b or R = D.log2 L
1 mark for explanation of equation
3 marks for example (e.g. QPSK)

d) What is meant by the synchronisation problem in data communications? Explain 2

different techniques that can be used to overcome the synchronisation problem.

Total 7 marks:
3 marks for explanation of synchronisation problem
2 marks each for techniques to overcome (Manchester encoding, synchronous
transmission, asynchronous transmission)

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e) Describe two different techniques that can be used to detect errors in data
transmission. In what situations do they fail to detect errors?

Total 4 marks:
2 marks each for any two of the following techniques (1½ marks for
technique, ½ mark for failure situations):
Parity checking (fails if even number of errors)
Checksum (fails if same bit switched in different way in two different
Cyclic Redundancy Checking (rarely fails)

Examination prepared by: FBE Computer Science Department.

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