Circuit Switching

In contrast to the packet-switching method, circuit switching requires a dedicated physical connection between the sending and receiving devices. The most commonly used analogy to represent circuit switching is a telephone conversation in which the parties involved have a dedicated link between them for the duration of the conversation. When either party disconnects, the circuit is broken and the data path is lost. This is an accurate representation of how circuit switching works with network and data transmissions. The sending system establishes a physical connection, the data is transmitted between the two, and when the transmission is complete, the channel is closed.

Some clear advantages to the circuit-switching technology make it well suited for certain applications. The primary advantage is that after a connection is established, there is a consistent and reliable connection between the sending and receiving device. This allows for transmissions at a guaranteed rate of transfer.

Like all technologies, circuit switching has downsides. As you might imagine, a dedicated communication line can be very inefficient. After the physical connection is established, it is unavailable to any other sessions until the transmission is complete. Again, using the phone call analogy, this would be like a caller trying to reach another caller and getting a busy signal. Circuit switching can therefore be fraught with long connection delays.