The E-carrier is a member of the series of carrier systems developed for digital transmission of many simultaneous telephone calls by time-division multiplexing. The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) originally standardized the E-carrier system, which revised and improved the earlier American T-carrier technology, and this has now been adopted by the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).
It was widely adopted in almost all countries outside the US, Canada, and Japan. E-carrier deployments have steadily been replaced by Ethernet as telecommunication networks transitions towards all IP.
An E1 link operates over two separate sets of wires, usually unshielded twisted pair (balanced cable) or using coaxial (unbalanced cable). A nominal 3 volt peak signal is encoded with pulses using a method avoiding long periods without polarity changes.
The line data rate is 2.048 Mbit/s (full duplex, i.e. 2.048 Mbit/s downstream and 2.048 Mbit/s upstream) which is split into 32 timeslots, each being allocated 8 bits in turn. Thus each timeslot sends and receives an 8-bit PCM sample, usually encoded according to A-law algorithm, 8,000 times per second (8 × 8,000 × 32 = 2,048,000). This is ideal for voice telephone calls where the voice is sampled at that data rate and reconstructed at the other end. The timeslots are numbered from 0 to 31.
The E1 frame defines a cyclical set of 32 time slots of 8 bits. The time slot 0 is devoted to transmission management and time slot 16 for signaling; the rest were assigned originally for voice/data transport.