MINT 702

MINT 702 Data Communication Protocols

Calendar Description:

*3 (fi 6) (variable, 36 hours). Structure of communication protocols, with an emphasis on the data link layer. SDLC and HDLC. Medium access control techniques. AAA. Local area, metropolitan area and wireless standards: Ethernet, 802.11 and Bluetooth. Offered jointly by the Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering and the Department of Computing Science.

General Information:

Term: Fall
Location & Schedule: Bear Tracks

Course Overview:

This course provides an introduction to layered data communication protocols, and focuses primarily on issues related to the data link layer. Functionality required from the data link layer will be discussed, including error detection, automatic repeat request procedures, flow control, framing, and medium access control. HDLC and PPP protocols for point-to-point links will be discussed. An overview of local area, metropolitan area, and personal area network protocols will be given, including discussion of Ethernet, WiFi, WiMax, and Bluetooth. Interconnection of local area networks, and wide area networks will also be discussed, with specific attention given to SONET/SDH, Frame Relay, ATM, and MPLS.

Course Objectives:

By the end of this course, students will be expected to have the ability to:

  • Discuss why networking protocols are designed in a layered manner, and identify drawbacks of this approach
  • Identify the basic functionality provided by the data link layer, and discuss in detail several specific responsibilities of protocols operating at this layer
  • Provide insight into the evolution of local area network protocols, and describe characteristics of several LAN standards, including Ethernet and 802.11
  • Discuss the differences and similarities of LANs with metropolitan area networks (such as WiMax) and personal area networks (such as Bluetooth)
  • Discuss the use of telecommunication facilities in support of data communications, and describe several wide area networking technologies, including SONET/SDH, Frame Relay, ATM, and MPLS.

Course Topics:

Weekend #1: Introduction and data link layer

  • Introduction to networks, protocols, and services (Chapters 1 & 2 of text)
  • Data link layer functionality: error detection, ARQ, flow control, framing, medium access control (Chapters 10, 11, 12 of text)

Weekend #2: Point-to-point protocols, LANs, MANs, PANs

  • HDLC and PPP (Sections 11.6, 11.7 of text)
  • Ethernet (Chapter 13)
  • 802.11, 802.16, Bluetooth (Chapter 14)

Weekend #3: Interconnection of LANs, and WANs

  • Approaches to network interconnection (Chapter 15)
  • SONET/SDH (Chapter 17)
  • Frame Relay and ATM (Chapter 18)
  • MPLS

(Note: Chapter numbers given above are for the 4th edition of the Forouzan text.)

Course Resources:

Required text:

  • Data Communications and Networking, 4th Edition, B.A. Forouzan, McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-07-325032-5 (This text is available in the U. of A. Bookstore). The 5th addition is also acceptable.

Supplemental texts:

  • Data and Computer Communications, 9th Edition, W. Stallings, Pearson/Prentice Hall. (This is the text for MINT 700)
  • Communication Networks: Fundamental Concepts and Key Architectures, 2nd Edition, A. Leon-Garcia & I. Widjaja, McGraw Hill

Supplemental material will be made available on the course webpage or distributed in class.

Course Evaluation:

Grades for the course will be assigned based on two quizzes and a final exam. Final grades will be assigned based on relative standing in class in terms of overall performance.

  • Each quiz will be 20% of the course grade. Final exam: 60% of the course grade.
  • The quizzes and exam will be closed book. Calculators will be allowed.

Final exam: Proposed date: TBD. This exam will cover the entire course, with an emphasis on the material discussed during the third weekend session.


Three assignments, one that covers the material of each weekend session, will be made available. Solutions will be posted prior to the subsequent weekend session in order that they may be used to prepare for the upcoming quiz or final exam. Although these assignments will not be graded, I strongly encourage you to complete them as they will be designed to help you learn key concepts covered in class.

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 /law/student-resources/graduate-resources/integrity-and-responsibilities) 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.