Packet-Switched And Circuit-Switched Networks – A Comparison

Telecommunication is the 21st century’s very innovative way in which messages and other information can be transmitted from one point that is completely separate from another through electronic medium. This medium is commonly known as the telecommunication medium. It consists of:

  1. Terminal nodes
  2. Intermediate nodes, and
  3. Links connecting the nodes.

There are two types of such networking systems known as circuit- and packet-switched networks. Following is a comparison of the two:


In a packet switched network the information that is being sent through nodes are broken down into subsets commonly known as packets. However, the use of a fixed pathway for the information to be transmitted is absent. Each packet of information travels through a different route and pace.

There are two basic ways in which the packet switching network can be brought to play:

1. Datagram

In this technique, the information that has been broken down into smaller packets has its own separate, independent unit. These units have a separate header too. This header holds the complete information of which path it will choose and its final place of delivery. At every in-between node, the decision about where a packet has to go next is taken.

2. Computer-generated

In this technique of packet switched networking there is a stage that is commonly known as the arrangement stage. This is the stage in which the path that the packet will choose from one end to another is established. Before the information can finally be sent off, the above decision is made to ensure there is no fault in the delivery.


In a circuit-switched network system a proper communication system is established between the two nodes and then communication occurs through that system. The only way the route can be established is by using links within the structure of the network. Following are the steps in which the communication is made possible:

  • First Step: It is important for the two points to be connected for proper communication to occur. A logical connection is established within the circuit across the two points.
  • Second Step: This is the main thing – the sending of information between the two points. Depending on the kind of network that is being used, the information is then sent either digitally or analogue.
  • Third Step: This is after the message of communication has been sent. It is important that the connection that was established has to be ended. In order to achieve this, the sources have to be sent signals that tell them to break the contact.

As a conclusion it can be stated that a packet-switched network is proven to be far more economical, but only if the consumer does not require a devoted network. On the other hand, this kind of connection is not entirely dependable. This is because the chances of packets being lost or arriving in a dismantled order are high.

With a circuit-switched network the connection is more dedicated. However, it is more economical. It is also very reliable because the chances of the information being lost or arriving one after another are absent.

Martha Stew is the author of this article. She refers to the website for any telecommunication networks information and help.