What Does Bellhead Mean?

A Bellhead an individual who prefers circuit-switching based networks over packet-switching based networks. Bellheads typically refer to engineers and managers who still stick to the practices established by the Bell Telephone Company and its many subsidiaries. Bellheads believe that the core of a computer's network should be based on circuit-switching architecture, which uses hardware to route and manage traffic over a network. This differs from packet switched networks, which rely on software.


Techopedia Explains Bellhead

A Bellhead is any person of the opinion that hardware-based circuit switching is better than IP-based packet switching, which relies on software. They believe in solving problems using dependable hardware and enforcing quality control. These ideals are believed to have sprung from the very robust phone system created by Bell.

The opposite of a Bellhead is a Nethead. A Nethead sees telecommunications as a relic and digital computing as the wave of the future. As such, Netheads believe that software and flexible and adaptive routing are the way to go. These ideals are what allowed the Internet to grow and are incorporated into Internet Protocol. So, while Bellheads would favor the adoptions of systems based on asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) technology, Netheads believe in extending IP.


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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.