Digital Switch

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What Does Digital Switch Mean?

A digital switch is a hardware device
for handling digital signals. The main function of these switches is to
manage digital signals generated or passed through a telephone exchange and
then forward it to the telephone company’s back-end network. The communication
between the subscribers of a telephone company is established with the help of
digital switching. Digital switches can be of different types based on the
number of lines they handle and the included features. Digital switches are much
faster in performance compared to analog switches.


Techopedia Explains Digital Switch

The purpose of a digital switch is to connect digital signals. These can be represented by different numbers, but they can be in only one of two states: 0 or 1. Digital switches are not designed to handle signals of various states having multiple numbers. Analog switches are suitable for representing multiple-state signals.

Digital switches can be of different types. The main two types of switching are:

  • Time Switching – In time switching, any input 8-bit pulse-code modulation (PCM) is allowed to forward to any output time slot. In this type, the input PCM word is written in the switch data memory and then read out as per the requested call.
  • Space Switching – In space switching, an 8-bit PCM word holds its time slot. Here, as the original time slot remains the same during and after switching, it does not cause any delay.

There are multiple types of digital switches available based on their functionality. For example, private branch exchange (PBX) is a digital switch managed by a private company, while centrex is another type operated from a central office.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
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.