Circuit Switching

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What Does Circuit Switching Mean?

In circuit switching, networks develop dedicated channels for transmissions. This traditional type of transmission methodology has remained in use, while other newer methods continue to evolve.

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Techopedia Explains Circuit Switching

As a method of data transmission, circuit switching is relatively straightforward. It involves setting up specific design circuits or lines for a network trajectory. With this particular trajectory established, the sender is free to deliver a series of data pieces to recipient.

This is in contrast to another method called packet switching. In a packet switching transmission system, individual pieces of data are sent separately and may even go through different routes to get to their destination.

One of the most concrete examples for these two very different types of communications is the telecom industry. In traditional land lines, circuit switching was used; fiber optic lines were set up for each telephone call. In newer types of transmissions, including cell phone communications and the Internet, packet switching allows for a more modular type of data delivery, which can involve some delay times. Network recipients tend to rearrange all of the packets in logical sequence and do other work on them before delivering them to a user.

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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.