March 17, 2006, Newsletter Issue #7: Circuit Switching vs. Packet Switching

Tip of the Week

Circuit switching (the basis of traditional phone service) has been around for more than a 100 years and might have been around a hundred more if packet switching hadnít come along.



VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) uses packet-switching technology. Packet switching, a way of breaking up a phone conversation and transmitting it in a way that eliminates wasted space, is a vast improvement over the old method.



A packet-switched network sends and retrieves data only as you need it. While circuit switching sends your phone conversation over a dedicated line (no one else is using it), a packet-switched phone conversation flows through a frenzied network along thousands of possible paths.



Circuit switching keeps the connection between you and the person youíre calling open and constant. Packet switching opens a brief connection thatís just long enough to send a small piece of your conversation (a chunk of data called a packet) from one system to another. And if youíre not talking, itís not sending.



When the multitude of packets (traveling a multitude of paths) gets to its destination, the packets of conversation are reassembled into the original form. And you didnít even know it happened.

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