Core Network

Why Trust Techopedia

What Does Core Network Mean?

A core network is a telecommunication network’s core part, which offers numerous services to the customers who are interconnected by the access network. Its key function is to direct telephone calls over the public-switched telephone network.


In general, this term signifies the highly functional communication facilities that interconnect primary nodes. The core network delivers routes to exchange information among various sub-networks. When it comes to enterprise networks that serve a single organization, the term backbone is often used instead of core network, whereas when used with service providers the term core network is prominent.

This term is also known as network core or backbone network.

Techopedia Explains Core Network

The facilities and devices used for the core or backbone networks are usually routers and switches, with switches being used more often. The technologies used for the core facilities are mainly network and data link layer technologies, including asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), IP, synchronous optical networking (SONET) and dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM). For backbone networks used for enterprises, a 10 Gb Ethernet or gigabit Ethernet technology is also used in many instances.

Core networks usually offer the following features:

  • Aggregation: The top degree of aggregation can be seen in a service provider network. Next in the hierarchy within the core nodes is the distribution networks, followed by the edge networks.
  • Authentication: Determines whether the user demanding a service from a telecom network is permitted to complete the task within the network.
  • Call Control or Switching: Determines the future span of a call depending on the processing of call signaling.
  • Charging: Deals with the processing and collation of charging the data created by multiple network nodes.
  • Service Invocation: A core network executes the service invocation task for its customers. Service invocation may occur in line with some precise activity (such as call forwarding) by the users or unconditionally (such as for call waiting).
  • Gateways: Should be used in core network for accessing other networks. The functionality of gateways depends on the kind of network to which it is connected.

Related Terms

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.