module specification

CT7140 - Broadband Networks (2015/16)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2015/16, but may be subject to modification
Module title Broadband Networks
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School Faculty of Life Sciences and Computing
Total study hours 200
152 hours Guided independent study
48 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Group Case Study
Unseen Examination 50%   3-hour Unseen Examination
Running in 2015/16
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Afternoon

Module summary

Broadband networks (xDSL, cable, PLC, 4G, FTTx, PON, WiMax, LTE, FSO, etc) and the provision of services that they enable (voice, video, multimedia, etc) play a crucial role on economic and social development in both advanced and developing countries. Demand for access to the Internet and multimedia applications continues to increase for both commerce and society. However, there are technical challenges associated with such network traffic as well as for broadband networks and these must be overcome in order to facilitate the continues deployment of high bandwidth access network technologies to support this high level demand. Through this module, the student will understand all technical aspects and limitations associated with broadband networks and will be able to analyse requirements, plan, design, simulate (using OPNET) and recommend on best options of broadband access network based on a customer scenario. Students are also prepared for progression onto a PhD programme in a specific aspect of Broadband Networks.

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

  • Familiarise the students with the evolution and deployment of broadband access networks, the various types of technologies available as well as their principle of operation.
  • Introduce the various multimedia services provided through broadband networks, the demands imposed on the network by the various types of traffic, and the techniques employed in order to achieve acceptable quality of service and expected quality of experience.
  • Enable students to apply channel characterisation techniques on broadband network scenarios according to demands imposed,  and advice on appropriate source and channel coding, access protocols and multiple access technologies.
  • Provide expert knowledge on the various types of carrier networks and broadband access techniques.
  • Develop and facilitate students’ abilities in planning, designing, simulating, evaluating and recommending broadband networks based on customer requirements.
  • Understand the professional, legal and ethical, economical  and global environmental issues through the development of Broadband Networks


• Broadband Access Networks: Telecommunications evolution, multimedia services, standards, convergence and interoperability, IP networks, technologies, deployment, next generation (access and home) networks.
• Traffic Characterisation: Types of traffic (voice, data, images, video, etc.), multiservice traffic, bandwidth considerations, quality of service, quality of experience.
• Channel Characterisation: Propagation phenomena, path loss, shadowing, noise, interference, multipath propagation, fading channel, etc.
• Coding: Source and channel coding, code efficiency, broadband network coding, etc.
• Protocols: TCP, UDP, RTP, RTCP, etc
• Multiple Access Technologies: TDMA, FDMA, CDMA.
• Carrier Networks: SONET/SDH, carrier Ethernet in metro area networks, etc.
• ATM: Networks, congestion control and signaling.
• MPLS: Networks, labels, traffic engineering, MPLS VPN.
• Broadband Access Techniques: Digitals Subscriber Line (xDSL), cable, Power Line Communications (PLC), etc.
• Wireless Broadband: Satellite, WiMax, LTE, 4G, etc.
• Optical Fibre and Components: Optical fibre, light propagation, signal degradation, sources and detectors, amplification, optical power budgeting, Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM).
• Optical Communication Networks: Passive Optical Networks (PON), Fibre To The X (FTTx) and Free Space Optics (FSO).
• Legal and ethical, economical  and global environmental issues

Learning and teaching

A series of lectures covers the entire syllabus. An extensive laboratory (hands-on) programme enhances the understanding of the theoretical concepts in their practical context. Prepared material will be used to provide background to many of these issues.

A limited range of appropriate textbooks will be used, however, much of the material will be supported by articles and Internet URLs. Full provision of documents relating to the module, in electronic format, will be provided through WebLearn.

[16 hours]  Formal lectures
[32 hours]  Laboratory practical sessions (supervised)
[72 hours]  Directed independent learning
[40 hours]  Directed independent laboratory work (unsupervised) 
[40 hours]  Computer-aided learning
[200 hours] Total teaching and learning time

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module the student should be able to:

LO1: Demonstrate familiarisation with the evolution of communications and deployment of broadband networks towards the access network, and the multimedia services provided.
LO2: Understand the various types of traffic, whether real time or not, and its demands on networks, expected quality of service and demanded quality of experience.
LO3: Understand and apply channel characterisation on broadband network scenarios according to demands imposed,  and advice on appropriate source and channel coding, access protocols and multiple access technologies.
LO4: Differentiate and recommend on the various types of carrier networks (SONET/SDH, Ethernet, ATM or MPLS).
LO5: Differentiate and recommend on the various types of broadband access techniques (wired, wireless or optical).
LO6: Plan, design, simulate, analyse results and recommend on a range of scenarios based on customer requirements on various types of broadband networks.


Assessment strategy

The assessment for this module consists of coursework (50%) and Examination (50%).

Coursework (LO2-6): Group (2-3 students) case study based on OPNET design and simulation software package provide a realistic scenario on an aspect of broadband networks.  For example, recent  group case studies include:

• Design and implementation of three interconnected office networks,
• Critical analysis  and implementation of QOS in IP networks,
• Design and simulation of a university campus network architecture,
• Implementation of a VLAN in a campus environment
•  Investigation of Firewalls security of a public network.  

The group case study reports are assessed both as a group technical report (35%) and as a group oral presentation (15%).  The report will be assessed by the completeness of the broadband network plan, design, simulation, analysis of simulated results obtained, and the quality of the documentation produced. The quality of the presentation will be assessed by the content of the presentation and by the students' ability to deal with questions and justify choices made.

Written Examination (LO1-6): This will last for 3 hours and will cover all learning outcomes but with higher focus on those which cannot be covered by the coursework. The examination paper has detailed descriptive and analytical questions examining various aspects of broadband networks.

The examination paper has two sections; one section consists of several short questions examining students understanding of the principles & techniques involved. For example, it may ask about TCP/IP, VPN, multiple access protocols, ATM and Internet traffic.  The second section of the examination paper contains long detailed questions asking students to describe, analyse and/or solve problems on specific topics such as multiple access techniques,   Optical or ATM networks, multiple access techniques (FDMA,TDMA or WDMA).



  • A.F. Molisch, Wireless Communications, 2nd Ed., Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, ISBN-13: 978-0470741863
  • A. Koster, X. Muñoz (Eds) Graphs and Algorithms in Communication Networks: Studies in Broadband, Optical, Wireless and Ad Hoc Networks, Springer, 2009, ISBN-13: 978-3642022494.
  • C. Hellberg, D. Greene and Truman Boyes, Broadband Network Architectures: Designing and Deploying Triple Play Services, Prentice Hall, 2007, ISBN-13: 978-0132300575
  • C. Lin (Ed.) Broadband Optical Access Networks and Fiber-to-the-Home: Systems Technologies and Deployment Strategies, Wiley-Blackwell, 2006, ISBN-13: 978-0470094785.
  • D.T. Wong, P.Y. Kong, Y.C. Liang and K.C. Chua, Wireless Broadband Networks, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, ISBN-13: 978-0470181775.
  • F. Halsall, Multimedia Communications: Applications, Networks, Protocols and Standards, Addison-Wesley, 2001,  ISBN-13: 978-0-20139-818-2
  • K. Wehrle, M. Günes and J. Gross (Eds), Modeling and Tools for Network Simulation,  Springer, 2010, ISBN-13: 978-3642123306.
  • L.G. Kazovsky, N. Cheng, W.T. Shaw, D. Gutierrez and S.W. Wong, Broadband Optical Access Networks, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0470182352.
  • Olifer, N. and Olifer, V. (2005) Computer Networks: Principles, Technologies and Protocols for Network Design, John Wiley and Sons, ISBN: 978-0-470-86982-6.
  • R. Horak, Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook, John Wiley & Sons, 2007, ISBN-13: 978-0-470-04141-3.


  • Banerjee, et al. "Wavelength-division-multiplexed passive optical network (WDM-PON) technologies for broadband access: a review",  Journal of Optical Networking, Nov. 2005, Vol. 4(11).
  • Cambini and Y. Jiang, "Broadband investment and regulation: A literature review", Telecommunications Policy, 33, 2009, pp 559-574.
  • S.M. Vaezi-Nejad, M. Cox and N. Cooper, "Novel Frequency Chirp Measurement Techniques", Measurement and Control, The Journal of Institute of Measurement and Control,  Vol 44(2), March 2011,  pp 53-57.
  • S.M. Vaezi-Nejad, M. Cox and N. Cooper, "Novel Instrumentation for Measurement of Relative  Intensity Noise"  Transactions of Measurement & Control, April 15, 2011.
  • S. Zhang, S.C. Liew and P. Lam, "Hot topic: physical layer network coding," in Proc. ACM 12th MobiCom, 2006, pp. 358-365, Sep. 2006, Los Angelos, USA.
  • T. Wang and G. B. Giannakis, "Complex field network coding for multiuser cooperative communications," IEEE J. Sel. Areas Commun., vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 561-571, Apr. 2008