Circuit Switching vs Packet Switching: Difference and Comparison

Regarding network communication, the setup of the physical layer is a process known as switching.  Switching means when multiple communicating devices are connected.

There are two types of switching. The first is circuit switching, and the other is packet switching.

Key Takeaways

  1. In Circuit Switching, a dedicated path is established between two endpoints for the entire duration of the transmission.
  2. Packet Switching transmits data in packets, which are individually routed to their destination based on the network conditions.
  3. Circuit Switching is more suited for applications that require a constant connection, while Packet Switching is more efficient for handling burst traffic.

Circuit Switching vs Packet Switching

Circuit switching is an old method of communication where a dedicated physical path is reserved for the entire communication session, resulting in a consistent and reliable connection. Packet switching allows multiple devices to share the same network but can lead to latency and jitter due to shared resources.

Circuit Switching vs Packet Switching

The method of switching utilized to provide a specialized communication line between the transmitter and the receiver is known as circuit switching.

The physical link between the origin and the destination is established. An example of circuit switching is the analogue telephone network. This sort of switching has a set bandwidth.

Packet switching is described as a connectionless system in which communications are separated and put together into packets. Every data is sent separately from the sending location to the final location.

The final payload contains the actual data in the packets. At the final destination, all the packets should be arranged properly.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCircuit SwitchingPacket Switching
Data transferPhases of data transfer:
i) Connection Establishment.
ii) Data Transfer.
iii) Connection Released.
The data is directly transferred from source to destination.
Data processingData is processed in the source system onlyData is processed at all the nodes including the source system.
ReliabilityIt is more reliable.It is less reliable.
WastageMore wastage of resourcesLess wastage of resources
Responsibility of transferThe Source system is the one that makes transmission happen.Intermediate routers also play a role in transmitting the data.

What is Circuit Switching?

Circuit switching divides network capacity (speed) into segments and maintains a constant bit delay across the connection. An ensuring data rate is provided by the exclusive path/circuit created between the sender and recipient.

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Once the circuit is created, data can be sent without delay. An example of circuit switching is the telephone system network. TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) and Frequency Division Multiplexing are two ways to combine multiple signals into one carrier.

FDM divides a signal into several bands. When numerous data streams are merged for simultaneous transmission over a common communication media, Frequency Division Multiplexing, or FDM, is utilized.

It’s a method of dividing a total bandwidth into a sequence of non-overlapping frequency sub-bands, each carrying a separate signal.

Multiple signals can be shared in the radio spectrum and through an optical fibre. Time Division Multiplexing divides a video signal into frames.

TDM is a technique for transmitting and receiving independent signals over a common signal route using synchronized switches at both ends of the power line.

TDM is a lengthy communication link that can handle much data traffic from the end user. A digital circuit-switched is also known as time-division multiplexing (TDM).

The main benefit of circuit-switched networks is establishing a dedicated transmission path between the computers, resulting in an assured data rate. Because of the dedicated transmission line, there is no delay in data flow when switching in-circuit.

What is Packet Switching?

Sending information in the form of packets to a system is known as Packet Switching. The data is split down into little, changeable bits called packets to send the file quickly and effectively over the network and minimize transmission delay.

All of these little components (packets) must be reconstructed at the destination and belong to the very same file. The payload & different control information make up a packet. There is no need to set up or reserve resources ahead of time.

When switching packets, data transmission employs the Store and Forward technique; when forwarding a packet, each hop first stores it before forwarding it.

Because packets might be dropped at any hop for a variety of reasons, this strategy is quite useful. Between two sources and destinations, multiple paths can be taken.

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Each transmitted data has source and destination information, which it uses to move through the network individually. Put another way, packets from the same file may or may not follow the same path.

If a path is congested, packets can choose among various paths available over an existing network because the success was not so high for little messages in circuit-switched.

Main Differences Between Circuit Switching and Packet Switching

  1. There are different phases involved when data is transferred through a circuit switching. These phases are known as connection establishment, data transfer and, the last, connection released. In contrast, packet switching transfers data directly from the source system to the destination.
  2. Processing of data in circuit switching only happens at the source system. In contrast, the data is processed at every node, which is included while transferring the data from the source system to the destination system.
  3. In reliability, if compared, circuit switching is more reliable than packet switching.
  4. Circuit switching and packet switching can also be compared by checking the wastage of resources. And the resources are wasted more during the transfer of data in circuit switching as compared to the data transfer in packet switching.
  5. When the data is transferred through a circuit switching, only the source system is the one that makes the transition happen, whereas in packet switching, intermediate rooters also play a role while the transfer of data is happening from a source system to the destination system.
Difference Between Circuit Switching and Packet Switching

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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8 thoughts on “Circuit Switching vs Packet Switching: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This is a comprehensive article that clearly explains the underlying principles of circuit switching and packet switching. The substantial comparison table highlights the critical differences in an informative manner.

  2. The detailed insights into circuit switching and packet switching are invaluable. However, the reliability of circuit switching in comparison to packet switching is a topic worth debating.

    • I agree, the differences in reliability between circuit and packet switching are crucial. The article explained it well, but it’s a debatable aspect considering the continuous advancements in network technology.

  3. The discussion on circuit and packet switching offers an absorbing read, providing insights into the intricate details of network communication.

    • Indeed, the article reveals interesting facets of circuit and packet switching, shedding light on the evolution and implications of these communication methods.

  4. I think the key takeaways from this article provide a thorough understanding of the differences between circuit switching and packet switching. It’s truly enlightening to learn how these two types differ in data transfer and resource management.

  5. The in-depth comparison between circuit switching and packet switching illustrates the complexities of network communication. With modern systems relying heavily on packet switching due to its efficiency.

  6. The distinct functions of circuit switching and packet switching have been excellently elucidated. It’s quite interesting to see the contrasting aspects highlighted in the comparison.


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