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ISDN Introduction

ISDN stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. It offers the following benefits to the customer: y y y y y y High bandwidth for data connection (Approximately 8-9K second) Line is extremely tolerant to noise and line quality - no more dropped lines during downloading Better line quality for analog modems and normal phone calls Caller Line Identification Presentation (CLIP) Ability to do simultaneous voice and data connection over the same line Ability to have 3 virtual phone numbers over single physical phone line

However ISDN has the following shortcomings y y y About TMnet ISDN Cost - Please refer to TMnet ISDN page Complicated setup procedures - best left to product vendor Power requirements - both the Terminal Adapter (TA) and the Network Terminator (NT) need to be powered up all the time.

How ISDN works


ISDN is very different from normal PSTN phone lines. A normal PSTN phone line uses sound to transmit information, be it voice or data, over copper cables to the nearest exchange. The quality of the sound is dependent on the condition of the copper cable, the distance from the exchange and so on. PSTN was never designed for data transmission, and so modems are needed for sound-to-electrical signal conversion (analog to digital) conversion. ISDN however, uses digital signals to transmit information, be it voice or data, over copper cables to the nearest exchange. Since the entire transmission channel is digital, it is much faster and no analog to digital conversion takes place. It is also very tolerant of line quality and not subject to unexpected disconnections. Please examine the diagram below to compare ISDN and PSTN.

Even though ISDN runs on standard pair of copper wires, there are 3 virtual channels available to you: y y y B1: 64kbps B2: 64kbps D: 16kbps

You may use one or both B channels for voice or data. Even though ISDN lines are digital, ISDN equipment normally have one or 2 ports to allow you to connect analog telecommunications devices such as phones, faxes and modems. Some ISDN phones even allow you to use all 3 channels for voice connections, although not simultaneously. You can configure your ISDN equipment to connect to the Internet using both B channels simultaneously. This is called Multilink PPP, and it allows data transfer rates of up to 128kpbs.

ISDN Line Application


You may apply for an ISDN line at selected Kedai Telekom. Please note that ISDN service may not be available in all areas, due to technical reasons. The list of selected Kedai Telekom and other pre-sale information is given here (http://www.tm.net.my/isdn.htm). First you need to get the form from the front counter. Fill in your details in Section 1. For personal users, place your name as the Name of Company. Other fields that need to be filled are Installation address, Post code, Contact person and Telephone number. Under Section 2, you need to fill in the following information: y y y y y Number of lines required: 1 Permanent: Ticked Calling Line Identification Presentation: This allows you to see the phone number who is calling you. Multiple Subscriber Numbers: This allows you to specify up to 3 telephone numbers for your line. International Direct Dialling (IDD): Allows you to dial internationally without going through the operator.

Under Section 2B - Type of Equipment (CPE) to be connected, you need to tick the Terminal Adapter and Internet Access boxes. When the form is complete, submit it to the clerk in charge. You can choose to be billed for installation when the first monthly bill arrives.

ISDN Line Installation


You may choose to convert your existing line to ISDN, or you may specify a completely new installation. If you choose to do the latter, you have to engage a Telekom contractor (list available at Kedai Telekom) to install the line for you, and you will be charged for the service. In any case, when the Telekom Malaysia CNO arrives, he will do the following: y Check/change the pair at the cabinet

Check/change the pair at the distribution point

Connect your phone line to a Network Terminator (NT).

The type of NT you get is dependent upon which exchange you are connected to.Telekom Malaysia uses Ericsson, Fujitsu, Motorola or NEC NTs. If you are not sure which type of NT you are using, please ask the CNO. You need this information when reporting a fault to Telekom Malaysia's Fault Reporting Service. You will need a power source for this NT at all times. The interface between the NT and the phone cable is known as the U interface.

After testing the line, the CNO's job is complete. The next step should be performed by a computer vendor.

ISDN Terminal Adapter Installation


To connect your computer to the NT, you need to use an ISDN Terminal Adapter (TA) or ISDN Router. The connection between the ISDN TA or Router and the NT is knows as the S/T interface. Normally the NT has two S/T interfaces, the other one will be used by Telekom Malaysia CNOs for testing purposes. Some NTs, like the NEC NT shown here, have only one S/T interface.The other port is the connection to the U interface.

Sometimes ISDN TAs are referred to as ISDN modems. This is actually incorrect since no analog to digital conversion takes place. There are internal and external models available. Internal ISDN TAs are installed into one of your computer's slots. External ISDN TAs are typically connected to your computer's serial port. ISDN TAs have to be configured before being used. For best results, configuration must be done by the Vendor. The configurations involves setting the NT type, enabling MultilinkPPP, assigning phone numbers to analog ports and so on. Once this configuration is complete, the TA may be treated just like an analog modem. It is controlled by standard dialler software, such as Win95 DUN (Win95) or FreePPP (Mac). Win95 and Mac configuration is almost the same as Dial 1515 except: y y Phone number to dial. 1515 is for analog modems only. ISDN users need to dial different numbers, please refer to TMnet ISDN page to get the list of ISDN's number. Manual login will not work. You have to connect Directly (Mac) or make sure the Bring up terminal window after dialling box is unchecked (Win95). Even though you can achieve rates of 128kpbs, the serial port on most PCs are limited to 115kpbs. You will need a different serial card to achieve higher port speeds. Most new Macs, however, can support 230kpbs as is. Some TAs come with a built-in NT. These TAs may be connected straight to the U interface, however this is not recommended as Telekom Malaysia will not be able to guarantee network connectivity. Always try to obtain TAs with S/T interfaces instead.

Most TAs have lights on them. However not all the lights are standard. Here is the lights for the TA I tested:

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Power Lit when the TA is switched on. Test Lit when the TA is performing a self test. The TA will perform a self test when it is first switched on or when it is reset. D Lit when the D channel is being used. If you have an analog phone connected, you will see D light up whenever you pick up the receiver. B1 Lit when the B1 channel is being used. For voice calls, it flashes amber when you here a dial tone or ringing at the other end, and lights constantly during your call. For data, a steady yellow light is displayed. B2 Lit when the B1 channel is being used. For voice calls, it flashes amber when you here a dial tone or ringing at the other end, and lights constantly during your call. For data, a steady yellow light is displayed. SD Flashes when data is trasmitted. RD Flashes when data is received. DTS Lights when receiving commands from the host computer.

y y y

The ports on TAs also differ from TA to TA. Here are the ports for the TA I tested:

y y y y y

ISDN port Connected to the NT via a special cable (supplied with the TA). Similar to RJ45 interface. Serial RS-232C port Connected to the computer via standard Mac or PC modem cable. Analog Port 1 and Port 2 Used to connect analog telecommunications devices such as phones, faxes and modems. Reset Resets the TA without having to switch it off Power Connection to the Power Adapter.

Please see the section on ISDN configurations for more information.

ISDN Router Installation

If you wish to connect a network of computers to the NT, you need to use an ISDN Router. The connection between the Router and the NT is knows as the S/T interface. Normally the NT has two S/T interfaces, the other one will be used by Telekom Malaysia CNOs for testing purposes. ISDN Routers are typically connected to a network hub via RJ45 Ethernet cables. You may also connect a single computer to a Router by using an Ethernet cross cable (which enables you to utilise to full speed of the ISDN line, since you are no longer limited by your serial port speed.) ISDN Routers have to be configured before being used. For best results, configuration must be done by the Vendor. The configurations involves setting the IP address of the router (usually set to 200.200.200.201), NT type, enabling MultilinkPPP, routing phone numbers to analog ports and so on. Once this configuration is complete, the TA may be treated just like an router. Username and password for Internet services are stored in the Router and not the computers connected to it. You need to use the Network Control Panel (Win95) or TCP/IP (Mac) to set the router as your internet gateway. The IP addresses will be something like 200.200.200.202, 203, and so on. Note that these IP addresses only exist behind the ISDN Router and not seen outside, so some Internet services such as ICQ may not work. Some Routers come with a built-in NT. These TAs may be connected straight to the U interface, however this is not recommended as Telekom Malaysia will not be able to guarantee network connectivity. Always try to get Routers with S/T interfaces instead. Most Routers have lights on them. However not all the lights are standard. Here is the lights for the Router I tested:

y y y y y y

On Lit when the Router is switched on. LAN Lit wen data is being transmitted to/from the Router and the hub. RX Flashes when data is received. TX Flashes when data is transmitted. Ready Lit when ISDN line is detected B1 Lit when the B1 channel is being used.

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B2 Lit when the B1 channel is being used. Ring Lit when incoming voice call is detected. Test Lit when the Router is performing a self test.

The ports on Routers also differ from Router to router.. Here are the ports for the Router I tested:

y y y y y y

ISDN port Connected to the NT via a special cable (supplied with the TA). Similar to RJ45 interface. Ethernet port Connected to the computer (via Ethernet cross cable) or hub (via standard Ethernet cable). Serial port Used to configure the ISDN router via its configuration program. Analog Port 1 and Port 2 Used to connect analog telecommunications devices such as phones, faxes and modems. Power Connection to the Power Adapter. On/Off Switch Switches the Router on and off.

ISDN configurations
A typical ISDN TA installation is shown here. Note that the Network Terminator also requires a power supply.

A Typical ISDN Router installation for one computer via Ethernet cross cable is shown here.

Actual photo of a similar configuration to that shown above. No analog devices are connected. The Cross cable is red.The black box is the NT's power supply and grounding terminal. The ISDN router's power supply is not in the picture.

A typical ISDN Router installation to a computer network is shown here.

Problems Encountered During Testing


These are problems I encountered after approximately one month of testing with a 3Com Impact TA. Review unit courtesy Micro Village, 03 - 705 1686. y Problem: D channel not lit Cause: D channnel is only used to set up the line. After that, it is no longer used. Solution: If you have an analog phone connected to the TA, pick up the receiver and the D channel will reactivate.

Problem: No dial tone, cannot connect. Cause: Many possible causes, but normally can only be fixed by a vendor or Telekom Malaysia. Solution: Please check to see if you can still make voice calls. If you can't, you need to report the fault to Telekom Malaysia's Fault Reporting Service. Dial 100 and inform them of your name, phone number and type of NT. If you can make voice calls, chances are your line is OK, but your TA is faulty. Inform the TA vendor. If your TA is fine, check your username and password with TMnet Support.

Problem: Can dial and connect, but hangs during authentication. Cause: This happens when Multilink PPP is enabled and only one B channel is authenticated. Solution: Disconnect and reconnect again. You may have to do this a few times to connect successfully.

Problem: Unexpected disconnection. Cause: This happens during when you are connected and there is no activity. Workaround: Start a file download. As long as the file is being downloaded (there is activity), you will not be disconnected.

Problem: Failure occurs when trying to upload files via FTP. Cause: This is due to the fact the the FTP server will perform reverse lookups to confirm identity and will disallow transactions if reverse lookup fails. Solution: Please inform TMnet Support of this matter, and we will forward it to the proper department.

Problem: One or both B channels remains active after disconnection Cause: Improper disconnection, such as shutting down the computer while connected. Solution: Reset the ISDN TA. You can do this by switching it off and on again, or pressing the reset button.

Problem: When calling the analog phone connected to the TA, the caller hears a ringing tone but the phone does not ring. Cause: Incorrect TA configuration Solution: Ask the vendor to reconfigure the ISDN TA.

Problem: Cannot hear a dial tone when picking up the analog phone connected to the TA. Cause: Incorrect TA configuration Solution: Ask the vendor to reconfigure the ISDN TA.

Problem: A fast paced tone is heard when picking up the analog phone connected to the TA. Cause: Faulty NT. Solution: Ericcson NTs have 2 lights, Power and Line. If only the Power light is on, the NT is faulty. Motorola NTs typically have 2 lights on. If only one light is on, the NT is faulty.