This layer is the lowest layer in the OSI structure. It assists in the transmission of data among two system that are communicating by a physical medium, that can be copper wire, optical fibres, or wireless medium etc. The subsequent are the major functions of the physical layer:
1. Hardware Specification: The details of the physical wires,, wireless radios, network interface cards, etc are a element of this layer.
Coaxial Cable Hybrid Cable Wireless Card Network Card
2. Encoding and Signalling: How are the bits encoded in the medium can also determined by this layer. For instance, on the copper wire medium, we can use various voltage levels for a certain time interval to symbolize '0' and '1'. We can use +5mV for 1nsec to represent '1' and -5mV for 1nsec to represent '0'. All the issues of modulation is dealt with in this layer.for example, we could use Binary phase shift keying for the representation of '1' and '0' rather than using different voltage levels if we have to transmit in RF waves.
Binary Phase Shift Keying
3. Data Transmission and Reception: The transfer of each and every bit of data is the task of this layer. This layer assure the transmission of every bit with a very high probability. The transmission of the data is not completely reliable as there is no error correction code in this layer.
4. Topology and Network Design: The network design is the essential part of the physical layer. Which component of the network is the router going to be placed, where the various switches will be used, where we will put the devices like hubs, how many systems is each switch going to handle, where the server is going to be placed and many such concerns are to be taken care of by the physical layer. Different kinds of network topologies that we decide to use may be ring, bus, star and can be hybrid of these topologies depending on our necessities.
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