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Difference Between Circuit Switching and Packet Switching

Difference Between Circuit Switching and Packet Switching

Switching is the procedure that is vital to establish a connection between various nodes of a network. The data transfer process can only start when the various nodes of the network have established a connection. Nodes are the endpoints for data transmission in a network, and switching provides a new network to enable further data transmission.

Circuit Switching and Packet switching are two different modes of switching. Where the circuit switching is a circuit or physical connection-based, packet switching is free of connections.

What is Packet Switching?

Packet switching is independent of the connections. There is a division of data in this mode of switching. The mode segregates data into smaller packets of information that may or may not be in order. These packets are then sent from the original location to the destination by sometimes using a predetermined route or sometimes without one. These are of two types:

  • Datagram Based: Each Data packet in this mode has a header and payload. The header contains the information about the payload, and the payload is the core data. The mode transmits the packets to the destination without a predetermined route. The receiver reassembles the data using the header data after it reaches the destination.
  • Virtual Circuit Based: This is slightly similar to Circuit Switching because it involves the establishment of virtual circuits. They form the predefined routes for the transfer of these packets.

Advantages of Packet Switching

  • Multiple data transfers are possible on the same stream simultaneously.
  • There is less or no delay when compared to circuit switching.
  • The mode does not require any large scale storage facility as data transfer takes place as soon as it is received.
  • If there is a failure in the link, the data transfer doesn’t stop. This is due to the presence of multiple routers which continue the data transfer.
  • This mode uses fewer resources when compared to Circuit Switching.

Disadvantages of Packet Switching

  • The initial setup is very expensive.
  • The protocols of transfer are very complex.
  • The delay may be substantial when traffic or load increases.

What is Circuit Switching?

Circuit switching in a mode that requires an exclusive connection between the source network and the destination network. The three phases involved in circuit switching are:

  • Connection Initiation: This phase involves establishing a physical connection between the source network and the destination.
  • Data Transfer: The data transfer of the entire stored data takes place via the established path.
  • Connection termination: The mode terminates the connection after the data transfer is complete. The intermediate connections also end here.

Advantages of Circuit Switching

  • The dedicated pathway results in a constant transfer speed.
  • The mode reduces the waiting time while switching to zero.
  • The quality of communication is high due to a dedicated channel.
  • It is an ideal mode for long and continuous data transfer.

Disadvantages of the Circuit Switching

  • The mode is expensive because every data transfer requires a physical connection.
  • The time taken to form a physical link between the source and destination is long.
  • Circuit Switching doesn’t fully utilise the resources available.
  • The channel remains open even when there is no data transfer. It remains open until someone terminates the link.

Difference Between the Circuit Switching and Packet Switching

Packet Switching 

Circuit Switching

The data is broken down into packets and sent over pathways that may or may not be predetermined. 

There is a need for a new physical connection to send data from source to destination every time. 

The mode takes full use of the resources. 

The mode doesn’t fully utilise the resources. 

The mode is ideal for data transmission because intermittent delay (if any) is not constant. 

This is ideal for voice transmission because the delay is constant

The data transferred is checked at source and intermediate stations. 

The data is processed only at the transmitting source. 

The initial cost for setup is high.

The mode is expensive in the long run because of a new connection for every transmission. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Circuit and Packet Switching

Ques: Which type of switching is ideal for handling high traffic?
Packet Switching is more efficient in the case of high traffic or data congestion. Since the mode efficiently utilises the resources available, it rapidly utilises the bandwidth and reduces the data load.

Ques: Which switching mode do we use in calling?
Telephones use circuit switching. Long-distance data transfer also uses circuit switching.

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