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A virtual channel identifier (VCI) distinguishes virtual channels (also known as circuits) created in a packet/cell switched network. A VCI has multiple circuits per communication channel and is primarily used for managing the unique identification of each created circuit.
A VCI is also known as a virtual circuit identifier (VCI).
A VCI is used in asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) cell networks. Each ATM cell header has a VCI, which is a 16-bit numeric field, for logical virtual channel identification. Each VCI works with a virtual path identifier (VPI) to facilitate end-to-end data packet transfer. The combined VCI and VPI numeric identifiers ensure correct data path transport.
Internet service providers (ISP) implement ATM technology's cell-switching capabilities to connect clients to the ISP infrastructure. The ATM switches client connections to create a virtual channel with a direct node for communication and can create multiple and varied circuits in a communication channel.