How did the 8KHz frame rate and the 8 bits per DS0 come about?
I’ll take the easy one first – Why 8 bits per DS0? For digital or telecom engineers 8 or any multiple of 2 is a perfect number. It’s very easy in digital logic to count in multiples of two thus it is very easy to extract these DS0’s, generate the frequencies and clocks required to receive and transmit at these rates and multiplex these T1 streams into T3 streams or higher rates. The trickier question is how do we get our voice to be transferred from one point to another in only 8 bits every 125us (this is the equivalent time of an 8KHz frame rate).
There is a theorem called Shannons theorem or sometimes referred to as Nyquist-Shannons theorem that drives the fundametal basics of all digital communications. First remember that T1’s were invented long before the advent of the internet or VoIP and they were designed with the specific goal of transferring voice in a digital format. The result of Shannons theorem is that to sample an analog signal(your voice in this case), convert it to a digital format and then reconstitute it as an analog signal (your voice at the other end) that has lost no or little information (the person you are talking to can understand you) the original analog signal must be sampled at a rate of at least twice the highest frequency you want to transmit. The typical human voice has a frequency range of about 50Hz to 3500Hz. So if you want to sample that voice and digitize it you have to sample it at a rate of at least 7000Hz. As in all good designs there has to be some design margin, often referred to as a guard band in communication theory, a rate of 8000Hz was chosen. The frame rate of 8KHz became the standard.
Now we know why 8 bits is used in a DS0 and the rate it must be sent at. In the next blog we’ll go into a little more detail on how the 8 bits are generated and what they represent.