Differentiate between a circuit-switched and packet-switched network.

Circuit-switched and packet-switched networks are two fundamental communication paradigms that govern the way data is transmitted between devices in a network.

Let's delve into the technical details of each:

  1. Circuit-Switched Network:
    • Connection Establishment:
      • In a circuit-switched network, a dedicated communication path, known as a circuit, is established between the communicating devices for the duration of their conversation.
      • The path is reserved exclusively for the participants during the entire session, ensuring a continuous and dedicated link.
    • Resource Reservation:
      • Resources (such as bandwidth) are reserved for the duration of the communication, even if there is no data being transmitted.
      • This ensures a guaranteed quality of service but can be inefficient if resources are reserved but not fully utilized.
    • Example Technology:
      • Traditional telephone networks are a classic example of circuit-switched networks. When you make a phone call, a dedicated circuit is established between you and the person you are calling.
    • Advantages:
      • Predictable and constant communication quality.
      • Simple to manage and implement.
    • Disadvantages:
      • Inefficient resource utilization.
      • Not scalable for large networks.
      • Susceptible to connection failures and congestion.
  2. Packet-Switched Network:
    • Data Transmission:
      • In a packet-switched network, data is broken down into small packets before transmission.
      • Each packet is individually routed from the source to the destination, allowing multiple packets to share the network resources.
    • Routing:
      • Packets can take different paths to reach the destination, and they may arrive out of order.
      • Routers and switches in the network make decisions on-the-fly to determine the best path for each packet.
    • Example Technology:
      • The Internet is a prime example of a packet-switched network. Data is divided into packets, and these packets take different routes to reach their destination.
    • Advantages:
      • Efficient use of network resources.
      • Scalable for large networks.
      • Fault tolerance as packets can take alternative routes.
    • Disadvantages:
      • Variable communication quality.
      • Packet loss and out-of-order delivery may occur.
      • Higher complexity in network management.