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The internet, like the telephone system which preceded it, depends for its existence on communications networks. This free course, Protocols in multi-service networks, examines these networks as the means of interconnecting devices so that two-way communication is possible. Examining protocols like HTTP, TCP/IP and ATM as well as the OSI reference model, it provides an overview of the topic for learners who have significant prior knowledge of the subject.
After studying this unit you should be able to:
- evaluate technical descriptions of communication protocols and demonstrate your understanding of their operation;
- describe the characteristics of circuit-switched and packet-switched networks, and of connectionless and connection-oriented modes in packet-switched networks;
- describe the role played by primitives in the OSI reference model;
- explain how ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ communication takes place in the OSI reference model;
- describe the main functions of the principal protocols in the TCP/IP architecture;
- describe how application software interacts with the TCP/IP protocol software through application program interfaces;
- find the network and host addresses from IPv4 addresses;
- describe the main functions of each of the layers of the ATM reference model;
- explain the role that virtual path identifiers and virtual channel identifiers play in forwarding ATM cells;
- describe how label switching can support IP over ATM.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Overview
- 2 OSI reference model
- 3 TCP/IP protocol architecture
- 4 ATM protocol architecture
- 5 Summary
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
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Protocols in multi-service networks
People have always communicated with each other – initially by face-to-face communication through gestures and sounds, then over a distance through written messages and signals in the form of fires, lights or flags. Technology, for instance in the form of electrical signals, has reduced many of the limitations of distance. Communication networks have become very important, and modern society depends on them for the smooth operation of economic and social activities. In this unit we regard a communication network as the means of interconnecting devices so that two-way communication is possible, and we shall focus on networks that interconnect telephones or computers. However, you should bear in mind other forms of network such as television and radio networks, which are primarily one-way, broadcast networks. In the future the separation between types of network may be less clear.
This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Multi-Service Networks: Structures (T822) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Systems (Computer) courses or view the range of currently available OU Systems (Computer) courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Monday, 18th July 2011
Last updated on: Tuesday, 16th October 2012
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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