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The physical layer is the first and lowest layer of the Open System Interconnection Model (OSI Model.)
The physical layer (also known as layer 1) deals with bit-level transmission between different devices and supports electrical or mechanical interfaces connecting to the physical medium for synchronized communication.
This layer plays with most of the network’s physical connections—wireless transmission, cabling, cabling standards and types, connectors and types, network interface cards, and more —as per network requirements.
The physical layer does not deal with the actual physical medium (like copper, fiber, etc.)
The physical layer is aimed at consolidating the hardware requirements of a network to enable the successful transmission of data. Network engineers can define different bit-transmission mechanisms for the physical layer level, including the shapes and types of connectors, cables, and frequencies for each physical medium.
Layer 1 is the first layer of the OSI Model, and therefore, the foundation upon which all higher-level functions are based. It translates the information that receives from the data-link layer (layer 2) into electromagnetic signals (binary data) to send them over the physical medium (wired or wireless media). These signals might consist of either digital signals (electrical pulses) or analog signals (continuous electromagnetic waves).
Depending on the type and quality of the physical layer, these signals might be deteriorated due to several phenomena such as noise, attenuation, dispersion, and distortion. The inherent physical limitations of the transmission media also account for the maximum bandwidth and error rate.
Transmission media can be either guided (such as cables, fiber optics, or UTP,) or unguided when no physical connectivity is established between the sender and receiver (such as in the case of wireless connections.)
Since the air itself constitutes the media over which data is sent in unguided media, anyone besides the actual recipient of the information may collect that data.
The physical layer sometimes plays an important role in the effective sharing of available communication resources and helps avoid contention among multiple users. It also handles the transmission rate to improve the flow of data between a sender and receiver.
The physical layer provides the following services:
Examples of protocols that use physical layers include: