Difference Between Circuit Switching and Packet Switching

By Priyanshu Vaish|Updated : June 20th, 2022

Difference Between Circuit Switching and Packet Switching: Packet switching and circuit switching are the two different methods of switching that are used to connect multiple communicating devices. The main difference between circuit switching and packet switching is that packet switching is connectionless. On the other hand, circuit switching is connection-oriented.

These are the two most common switching methods. Here, we will understand how these processes affect the transfer of data from sender to receiver and differ from one another. We have provided a brief introduction to circuit switching, packet switching, and the difference between circuit switching and packet switching in the upcoming sections.

Table of Content

What is the Difference Between Circuit Switching and Packet Switching?

Circuit switching and packet switching are two alternative switching strategies for connecting several communicating devices to one another. The table given below shows the difference between circuit switching and packet switching based on various parameters such as address, techniques used, delay, etc.

Key Difference Between Circuit Switching and Packet Switching

Circuit Switching

Packet Switching

In circuit switching, each packet will have an entire path address that is given by the source.

In packet switching, each packet will have only a destination address, routers decide the intermediate path.

Circuit switching does not use the store and forward technique.

Packet switching uses a store and forward technique.

In circuit switching, the data transmission is done by source only.

Data is transmitted through source and intermediary routers in packet switching.

In circuit switching, the delay between the data units is uniform.

In packet switching, the delay between the data unit is variable.

In circuit switching, congestion can occur during the connection establishment phase.

In packet switching, the congestion occurs during the data transfer phase.

Circuit switching is not a fault tolerance technique.

Packet switching is a fault tolerance technique in which is packet can be diverted by the other paths.

What is Circuit Switching?

Knowing the difference between circuit switching and packet switching, let us first discuss circuit switching. A circuit-switched network is made up of a series of switches that are linked together via physical links. A circuit-switched network consists of a group of switches linked by physical links, each of which is divided into n channels.

At the physical layer, circuit switching takes place. Therefore, before starting communication, the stations must make a reservation for the resources to be used during the communication. These resources, such as time slots (TDM), switch buffers, switch processing time, and channels(bandwidth in FDM and switch input/output ports), must remain dedicated during the entire duration of data transfer until the teardown phase.
The circuit switching has three-phase that are as follows:

  1. Setup phase: Before the two parties (or multiple parties in a conference call) communicate, a dedicated circuit (combination of the channels in links) must be established.
  2. Data-transfer phase: The two parties can transfer data after establishing the dedicated circuit (channels).
  3. Teardown phase: When one of the parties needs to disconnect, each switch sends a signal to release the resources.

What is Packet Switching?

After knowing the difference between circuit switching and packet switching, let us discuss packet switching. Packet switching is a connectionless network in which messages, known as packets, are separated and organised. From the source to the destination, each packet is routed independently.

The payload carries the real data in these packets. When the packet arrives at the destination, it is the destination's obligation to arrange the packets in the correct order. Packet-switching technologies are used in most modern Wide Area Network (WAN) protocols, such as TCP/IP, X.25, and Frame Relay.

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FAQs on Difference Between Circuit Switching and Packet Switching

  • Packet switching and circuit switching are the two different methods of switching that are used to connect the multiple communicating devices. The main difference between circuit switching and packet switching is that packet switching is connectionless, whereas circuit switching is connection-oriented.

  • The main advantage that packet switching has over circuit switching is its efficiency. Packets can find their own data paths to their destination address without a dedicated channel. In contrast, in-circuit switching network devices can't use the channel until the voice communication has been terminated.

  • Packet switching is easier and more affordable than circuit switching. In addition, since all the bandwidth can be used at once, packet switching is more efficient because it doesn't have to deal with a limited number of connections that may not be using all that bandwidth.

  • Data packets can find their destination without the use of a dedicated channel. In addition, it reduces lost data packets because packet switching allows for the resending of packets.

  • Circuit switching was specifically designed for real-time voice communication. It's been around for a long time, and most of us remember using a landline for calls. However, the protocols and infrastructure for circuit switching were designed decades ago and still serve their original purpose well.

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