REVIEW - Practical Data Communications


Practical Data Communications


Roger L. Freeman



Wiley-Interscience (2001)




Rick Stones


February 2002



This book covers a wide range of material and is an update of an earlier 1995 edition. It starts with some introductory material about network topology and ISO layered models and then works up from methods of transmitting bits of information using voltage levels all the way through modems, TCP/IP up to Fibre-optics, SDH and ATM. It also has a very good index, important in this kind of wide-ranging book.

Most of the book is aimed 'above' the electronics level, more at the 'technology' level. Topics such as TCP/IP are covered in enough detail to allow you to understand the principles but not to run off and start implementing the protocols for yourself. However it would put you in a much better position to start understanding the RFCs if you need the full gory details.

The range of topics covered is very extensive, I looked up a range of items from my communications background and invariably found they where covered in this book. Refreshingly for such a 'textbook' style book it is very well written in a style I found easy to read and understand. Definitions are generally short but effective, with none of the excessive verbiage that sometimes accompanies such books.

Apart from a university level course book I'm not sure where the book is targeted. It is probably not for the general software engineer, more for communications, networking and corporate architecture people. Certainly it is an excellent reference, but covers such a wide range of material the depth is of necessity a little shallow, but still a bit of a heavyweight to sit and read for interest value.

My only complaint about the book is the price. The hardback copy I received is listed at£107. At that price I can't see many takers except libraries. The paperback copy is shown on Amazon at£66.95, which is a bit more reasonable, but I think at that price I couldn't justify giving it a recommended status, even though it's a well-written and comprehensive book.Parallel& Distributed Programming etc.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.