html{display:none} COM 401: Data Communications Fundamentals | Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories

COM 401: Data Communications Fundamentals

PDHs: 30

Course Base Fees: $2,400*
* Plus Applicable Tax


Course Information

This is a four-day course. 

Course Base Fees: $2,400 USD

This course covers fundamental principles and usage of serial, radio, and Ethernet data communications employed in industrial and utility power systems. The course also covers fundamentals of major utility protocols, including DNP3, Modbus, Mirrored Bits communications, IEC 61850 GOOSE, and IEC 61850 MMS.

You will learn the terminology, concepts, and other information necessary to be knowledgeable in data communications. You will also learn the basic guidelines for the design, integration, and use of data communications equipment, protocols, and systems.


COM 401 is designed for engineers in protection, automation, systems integration, and communications and for consultants who specify, design, test, or use communications systems in operational technology (OT) applications. 


Day 1

  • Communications Fundamentals
  • Modulation Techniques
  • Communications Media (includes an exercise)
  • Traditional Applications
  • Data Communications (includes an exercise)
  • Data Transmission

Day 2

  • Introduction to Message Switching (includes an exercise)
  • Geographical Classification (includes an exercise)
  • Network Architectures (includes an exercise)
  • Ethernet Communication Fundamentals
  • Software-Defined Networks (includes an exercise)

Day 3

  • Precision Time Protocol
  • Introduction to Protocols: SCADA Communications (includes an exercise)
  • Introduction to Protocols: Other Communications
  • Introduction to SEL Protocols
  • Applications Using Mirrored Bits
  • DNP3 Protocol (includes an exercise)

Day 4

  • Cybersecurity
  • Security Levels
  • IEC 61850 Overview
  • IEC 61850 GOOSE Messaging
  • IEC 61850 Creating Reports (includes an exercise)
  • IEC 61850 Digital Secondary Systems
  • Comparison of IEC 61850 and DNP3

Please note that this is not a hands-on course. Exercises are performed either with pen and paper or as part of the class discussion.

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, students can:

  • Define the purpose of system integration and communications-assisted applications.
  • Describe IED data contents, data integration, and data consumers.
  • Identify device communications methods and topologies.
  • Define common communications protocols, including IEC 61850, Modbus, and DNP3.
  • Distinguish between serial and Ethernet networks.
  • Identify SEL best practices in configuring device communications.
  • Identify the advantages of networking multiple IEDs together.

For hands-on experience with data communication protocols and equipment, please consider the following courses:

Student Background and Knowledge

Before you attend this class, we recommend that you have a degree in electrical engineering or information technology or equivalent experience in data communications.

Available Courses

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Course Preparation

Digital course materials: A link to download the digital course materials will be sent via email 2 weeks prior to the course.

Additional information is on the Course Policies and FAQ pages.