E1 Line

The Non North American legacy PSTN is based on the E1 Carrier System using Time Domain Multiplexing (TDM). It is a digital system that digitizes the analog Voice Channel into 8 bit data. This means that there are 2^8 or 256 levels that the 8 bit data can represent.

It samples the analog signal 8000 times a second (2x 4 kHz - makes Nyquist happy!). It is a serial data stream so we transmit the 8 bit data 1 bit at a time. This means that for a digitized Voice Channel, the data rate is:

8 bits x 8000 samples = 64 Kbps

An E1 line consists of 30 multiplexed channels of 64 kbps each for a 2 Mbps data stream.

E1 RJ48 to BNC pair connection

RJ48 Pinout for E1 line

A E1 line is wired according to the RJ48 standard. Typically, RJ48 uses STP (shielded twisted pair). RJ45 refers to the UTP wiring standard used for LAN protocols like Ethernet. Both Ethernet and E1/T1 use the same modular connector 8P8C.

E1 Cross Over Cable

E1 Crossover Cable

You can rent any quantity of a E1 line, you don't have to rent the complete circuit. You basically rent a time-slot on the line based on 64 kbps channels. This is called Fractional E1.

The E1 line (and T1) has different variations:

  • primary-4ess Lucent 4ESS switch type for the U.S.
  • primary-5ess Lucent 5ESS switch type for the U.S.
  • primary-dms100 Northern Telecom DMS-100 switch type for the U.S.
  • primary-dpnss DPNSS switch type for Europe
  • primary-net5 NET5 switch type for UK, Europe, Asia and Australia
  • primary-ni National ISDN Switch type for the U.S.
  • primary-ni2c The Cisco NAS-SC switchtype based on NI2C
  • primary-qsig QSIG switch type
  • primary-ts014 TS014 switch type for Australia (obsolete)
  • primary 30 Channels
Alarms that can occur on a E1:

RED: Your T1/E1 port will go into red alarm when it cannot maintain synchronization with the remote switch. A red alarm typically indicates either a physical wiring problem, loss of connectivity, or a framing and/or line-coding mismatch with the remote switch. When your T1/E1 port loses sync, it will transmit a yellow alarm to the remote switch to indicate that it's having a problem receiving signal from the remote switch.

YELLOW: remote alarm indication (RAI): Your T1/E1 port will go into yellow alarm when it receives a signal from the remote switch that the port on that remote switch is in red alarm. This essentially means that the remote switch is not able to maintain sync with you, or is not receiving your transmission.

BLUE: alarm indication signal (AIS): Timing is there but no data or control information is present.

Although E1s don't use the terms YELLOW, BLUE, RED, they are for comparisons with T1.

Loopback : Not really an alarm. Indicates that a span is not available, as the port is in either a local or remote loopback mode.

Not Open (NOP) : Something is not connected. The technical explanation example is that "a span that belongs to a device that has been disconnected but is still being used by userspace programs and thus can't be destroyed". When running Asterisk, I've found is that if Dahdi is properly configured and loaded but Asterisk is not running then dahdi_tools or dahdi_scan will indicate the NOP alarm.

Also, for Asterisk situations, you will receive the NOP alarm if your chan_dahdi_trunk.conf (may be named something else on another system) configuration is missing the "signalling = pri_cpe" line. In this case, Asterisk loads but the Dahdi interface in Asterisk doesn't load.

Red/NOP : Combination of alarms and indicates that the span is configured but not physically connected and that Asterisk is not running.

Asterisk Troubleshooting Tip

Dropped Calls - Sometimes if busydetect=yes is set in your /etc/asterisk/chan_dahdi.conf file, it will cause random dropped calls. Busydetect is used for analog calls not digital. Set it for no then restart.

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Copyright July 2013 Eugene Blanchard