Cisco CCNA Certification Exam Tutorial: ISDN Details You Must Know

CCNA exam success depends partially on knowing the details of ISDN, and there are plenty of them! To help you review for your CCNA exam, here are a few ISDN details that you must know on exam day. (They help in the real world, too – and there are still plenty of ISDN networks out there!

The Cisco-proprietary version of HDLC is the default encapsulation type for serial and ISDN interfaces.

R2#show interface serial0

Serial0 is up, line protocol is up

Hardware is HD64570

MTU 1500 bytes, BW 1544 Kbit, DLY 20000 usec, rely 255/255, load 1/255

Encapsulation HDLC, loopback not set, keepalive set (10 sec)

While there’s only one D-channel in BRI, PRI (US) and PRI (EU), the bandwidth of that D-channel does vary from BRI to PRI. It’s 16 kbps in BRI and 64 kbps in both PRI versions.

The global command isdn switch-type must be configured before you can even begin to have ISDN work. show isdn status will tell you whether or not you’ve done this correctly.

R2#show isdn status

**** No Global ISDN Switchtype currently defined ****

ISDN BRI0 interface

dsl 0, interface ISDN Switchtype = none

Layer 1 Status:


Layer 2 Status:

Layer 2 NOT Activated

Layer 3 Status:

0 Active Layer 3 Call(s)

PAP allows passwords to be different; CHAP requires that they be the same.

PAP requires the “ppp pap sent-username” interface-level command. CHAP has no equivalent command.

Define interesting traffic with dialer-list and link that list to the interface with dialer-group.

R2#conf t

R2(config)#dialer-list 1 proto ip permit

R2(config)#int bri0

R2(config-if)#dialer-group 1

The dialer idle-timeout value is expressed in seconds, not minutes. (Even IOS Help isn’t totally clear on this.)

R2(config)#int bri0

R2(config-if)#dialer-group 1

R2(config-if)#dialer idle-timeout ?

Idle timeout before disconnecting a call

R2(config-if)#dialer idle-timeout 120

Dialer map maps a remote IP address to a remote phone number. You never dial the local router’s phone number.

dialer load-threshold requires the ppp multilink command to be configured, and the value of dialer load-threshold is expressed as a ratio of 255, NOT 100. For example, if you want the second b-channel to come up when the first reaches 50% of capacity, the value to express with dialer load-threshold would be 50% of 255 – which equals 127.

R2(config)#int bri0

R2(config-if)#encap ppp

R2(config-if)#ppp multilink

R2(config-if)#dialer load-threshold ?

Load threshold to place another call

Success on the CCNA exam depends on knowing the details. Keep studying, keep practicing on real Cisco routers and switches, keep a positive attitude, and you’re on your way to CCNA exam success!