What Does Routing Mean?

Routing refers to establishing the routes that data packets take on their way to a particular destination. This term can be applied to data traveling on the Internet, over 3G or 4G networks, or over similar networks used for telecom and other digital communications setups. Routing can also take place within proprietary networks.


Techopedia Explains Routing

In general, routing involves the network topology, or the setup of hardware, that can effectively relay data. Standard protocols help to identify the best routes for data and to ensure quality transmission. Individual pieces of hardware such as routers are referred to as “nodes” in the network. Different algorithms and protocols can be used to figure out how to best route data packets, and which nodes should be used. For example, some data packets travel according to a distance vector model that primarily uses distance as a factor, whereas others use Link-State Protocol, which involves other aspects of a “best path” for data.

Data packets are also made to give networks information. Headers on packets provide details about origin and destination. Standards for data packets allow for conventional design, which can help with future routing methodologies. As the world of digital technology evolves, routing will also evolve according to the needs and utility of a particular network.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.