MINT 700 The Physical Layer

Calendar Description:

*3 (fi 6) (variable,36 hours)  Communication media, including copper, optical fiber and wireless. Modulation and coding standards. Framing. Error control techniques. MAN and WAN physical layers, including PDH, SONET/SDH, ATM, cable modems, xDSL, AMPS, GSM, GPRS, etc. Offered jointly by the Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering and the Department of Computing Science. 

General Information:

Term: Fall
Location & Schedule: Bear Tracks


The Physical Layer covers transmission media, including copper, optical fiber and wireless technology. Topics consider modulation and coding standards, framing, error control techniques and MAN and WAN physical layers.


This course discusses a wide range of topics relevant to the physical layer.

Course Topics: 

  • Data communications, data networks and the internet. A communications model, data communications, networks, the internet. Based on Chapter 1 [Stallings]
  • Basic concepts such as frequency, spectrum and bandwidth. Analog and digital data transmission. Transmission impairments such as attenuation, cross-talk, delay distortion and so on. Channel capacity – Nyquist and Shannon formulas. Signal-to-noise ratio. Based on Chapter 3 [Stallings].
  • Basic types of transmission media and their physical and transmission characteristics. Twisted pair, coaxial cables, optical fiber, wireless and satellite links.  Based on Chapter 4 [Stallings].
  • Signal encoding techniques. Basic overview of analog and digital communications. Standard analog and digital modulation techniques such as ASK, FSK, PSK, PCM, and AM. Based on Chapter 5 [Stallings].
  • Digital data communication techniques. Asynchronous and synchronous transmission. Error detection and error control techniques. Based on Section 6.1-6.4 [Stallings].
  • Multiplexing. FDM, synchronous TDM, statistical TDM, Digital subscriber line technologies – ADSL to VDSL. Cable modem technology. Based on Chapter 8 [Stallings].
  • Spread spectrum. Frequency hopping, direct sequence, code division multiple access. Based on Chapter 9 [Stallings].
  • Cellular wireless networks. Principles, first generation, second generation, third generation. Based on Chapter 14 [Stallings].ourse Work and Evaluation:

    Quizzes (in-class) and assignments are worth 60%, and a final exam is worth 40%. The assignments will be posted on the course webpage.  Submission of completed assignments can be made in person, by fax, or by email before the deadline. Submission deadlines will be strictly enforced and every hour beyond the deadline will incur a 5% penalty.  Submissions delayed over more than 12 hours will not be accepted without a valid reason (e.g., medical emergency).

    The final exam location and other details  will be announced later.

    Quizzes, assignments and the final marks will be used to calculate the total raw scores for each student, and the total raw scores will determine the final grade distribution.

    Course Material:

  • Data and Computer Communications, William Stallings, 9th Edition, Prentice Hall (Required).
  • This book may be purchased from our university bookshop or other sources. Additional printed notes may also be handed out during the lectures.

    Academic Integrity:

    The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University. (GFC 29 SEP 2003)


    While you may discuss your individual coursework with other students, the work claimed and submitted in your name must be your own. That said, there are assignment and project-specific policies on how much source code from publicly available sources may be borrowed. Always give proper credit to the original developers in your source code and documentation. Ask permission beforehand if you intend to recycle your work from another course in this course. More details on Appropriate Collaboration is given here.

    Regulations listed in the GFC Policy Manual and the University Calendar will be used in resolving any discrepancies.