In digital communications, different techniques are used for transmitting digital data from one node to another. Each method has its own characteristics, impacts and limitations. Dumb and intelligent networks are major examples of digital communication techniques.
Intelligent networks are more stable and reliable. They control and manage any activity regarding network applications. Because both types of networks have drawbacks, a context-aware network attempts to overcome the limitations related to intelligent and dumb networks.
Dumb networks only provide connectivity to end systems, but without further assistance, such as routing or switching within a network. Any issue or undesired reaction in the network is handled by individual applications.
The best example of a context-aware network is the Semantic Web. Grid network topologies, autonomic networks and service-oriented networks also include some of the characteristics of context-aware networks.