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Circuit switching is a method of implementing a telecommunications network in which two network nodes establish a dedicated communications channel (circuit) through the network before the nodes may communicate. The circuit guarantees the full bandwidth of the channel and remains connected for the duration of the communication session. The circuit functions as if the nodes were physically connected as with an electrical circuit.
A telecommunications network is a collection of terminal nodes in which links are connected so as to enable telecommunication between the terminals. The transmission links connect the nodes together. The nodes use circuit switching, message switching or packet switching to pass the signal through the correct links and nodes to reach the correct destination terminal. Each terminal in the network usually has a unique address so messages or connections can be routed to the correct recipients. The collection of addresses in the network is called the address space. Examples of telecommunications networks include:
A telecommunication circuit is an electrical path in telecommunication used to transmit information.
The defining example of a circuit-switched network is the early analog telephone network. When a call is made from one telephone to another, switches within the telephone exchanges create a continuous wire circuit between the two telephones, for as long as the call lasts.
A telephone network is a telecommunications network used for telephone calls between two or more parties.
A telephone call is a connection over a telephone network between the called party and the calling party.
A telephone exchange is a telecommunications system used in the public switched telephone network or in large enterprises. An exchange consists of electronic components and in older systems also human operators that interconnect (switch) telephone subscriber lines or virtual circuits of digital systems to establish telephone calls between subscribers.
Circuit switching contrasts with packet switching, which divides the data to be transmitted into packets transmitted through the network independently. In packet switching, instead of being dedicated to one communication session at a time, network links are shared by packets from multiple competing communication sessions, resulting in the loss of the quality of service guarantees that are provided by circuit switching.
Packet switching is a method of grouping data that is transmitted over a digital network into packets. Packets are made of a header and a payload. Data in the header are used by networking hardware to direct the packet to its destination where the payload is extracted and used by application software. Packet switching is the primary basis for data communications in computer networks worldwide.
A network packet is a formatted unit of data carried by a packet-switched network. A packet consists of control information and user data, which is also known as the payload. Control information provides data for delivering the payload, for example: source and destination network addresses, error detection codes, and sequencing information. Typically, control information is found in packet headers and trailers.
In circuit switching, the bit delay is constant during a connection, as opposed to packet switching, where packet queues may cause varying and potentially indefinitely long packet transfer delays. No circuit can be degraded by competing users because it is protected from use by other callers until the circuit is released and a new connection is set up. Even if no actual communication is taking place, the channel remains reserved and protected from competing users.
Virtual circuit switching is a packet switching technology that emulates circuit switching, in the sense that the connection is established before any packets are transferred, and packets are delivered in order.
While circuit switching is commonly used for connecting voice circuits, the concept of a dedicated path persisting between two communicating parties or nodes can be extended to signal content other than voice. The advantage of using circuit switching is that it provides for continuous transfer without the overhead associated with packets, making maximal use of available bandwidth for that communication. One disadvantage is that it can be relatively inefficient, because unused capacity guaranteed to a connection cannot be used by other connections on the same network.
For call setup and control (and other administrative purposes), it is possible to use a separate dedicated signalling channel from the end node to the network. ISDN is one such service that uses a separate signalling channel while plain old telephone service (POTS) does not.
The method of establishing the connection and monitoring its progress and termination through the network may also utilize a separate control channel as in the case of links between telephone exchanges which use CCS7 packet-switched signalling protocol to communicate the call setup and control information and use TDM to transport the actual circuit data.
Early telephone exchanges were a suitable example of circuit switching. The subscriber would ask the operator to connect to another subscriber, whether on the same exchange or via an inter-exchange link and another operator. In any case, the end result was a physical electrical connection between the two subscribers' telephones for the duration of the call. The copper wire used for the connection could not be used to carry other calls at the same time, even if the subscribers were in fact not talking and the line was silent.
Circuit switching contrasts with packet switching which divides the data to be transmitted into small units, called packets, transmitted through the network independently. Packet switching shares available network bandwidth between multiple communication sessions.
Multiplexing multiple telecommunications connections over the same physical conductor has been possible for a long time, but nonetheless each channel on the multiplexed link was either dedicated to one call at a time, or it was idle between calls.
In circuit switching, a route and its associated bandwidth is reserved from source to destination, making circuit switching relatively inefficient since capacity is reserved whether or not the connection is in continuous use.
In contrast, packet switching is the process of segmenting data to be transmitted into several smaller packets. Each packet is labeled with its destination and a sequence number for ordering related packets, precluding the need for a dedicated path to help the packet find its way to its destination. Each packet is dispatched independently and each may be routed via a different path. At the destination, the original message is reordered based on the packet number to reproduce the original message. As a result, datagram packet switching networks do not require a circuit to be established and allow many pairs of nodes to communicate concurrently over the same channel.
Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) is a telecommunications standard defined by ANSI and ITU standards for carriage of user traffic, including telephony (voice), data, and video signals. ATM was developed to meet the needs of the Broadband Integrated Services Digital Network, as defined in the late 1980s, and designed to integrate telecommunication networks. Additionally, it was designed for networks that must handle both traditional high-throughput data traffic, and real-time, low-latency content such as voice and video. The reference model for ATM approximately maps to the three lowest layers of the ISO-OSI reference model: network layer, data link layer, and physical layer. ATM is a core protocol used over the SONET/SDH backbone of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), but its use is declining in favour of all IP.
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is a set of communication standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional circuits of the public switched telephone network. It was first defined in 1988 in the CCITT red book. Prior to ISDN, the telephone system was viewed as a way to transport voice, with some special services available for data. The key feature of ISDN is that it integrates speech and data on the same lines, adding features that were not available in the classic telephone system. The ISDN standards define several kinds of access interfaces, such as Basic Rate Interface (BRI), Primary Rate Interface (PRI), Narrowband ISDN (N-ISDN), and Broadband ISDN (B-ISDN).
Frame Relay is a standardized wide area network technology that specifies the physical and data link layers of digital telecommunications channels using a packet switching methodology. Originally designed for transport across Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) infrastructure, it may be used today in the context of many other network interfaces.
Network topology is the arrangement of the elements of a communication network. Network topology can be used to define or describe the arrangement of various types of telecommunication networks, including command and control radio networks, industrial fieldbusses and computer networks.
Time-division multiplexing (TDM) is a method of transmitting and receiving independent signals over a common signal path by means of synchronized switches at each end of the transmission line so that each signal appears on the line only a fraction of time in an alternating pattern. It is used when the bit rate of the transmission medium exceeds that of the signal to be transmitted. This form of signal multiplexing was developed in telecommunications for telegraphy systems in the late 19th century, but found its most common application in digital telephony in the second half of the 20th century.
Telephony is the field of technology involving the development, application, and deployment of telecommunication services for the purpose of electronic transmission of voice, fax, or data, between distant parties. The history of telephony is intimately linked to the invention and development of the telephone.
A virtual circuit (VC) is a means of transporting data over a packet switched computer network in such a way that it appears as though there is a dedicated physical layer link between the source and destination end systems of this data. The term virtual circuit is synonymous with virtual connection and virtual channel. Before a connection or virtual circuit may be used, it has to be established, between two or more nodes or software applications, by configuring the relevant parts of the interconnecting network. After that, a bit stream or byte stream may be delivered between the nodes; hence, a virtual circuit protocol allows higher level protocols to avoid dealing with the division of data into segments, packets, or frames.
A communication channel refers either to a physical transmission medium such as a wire, or to a logical connection over a multiplexed medium such as a radio channel in telecommunications and computer networking. A channel is used to convey an information signal, for example a digital bit stream, from one or several senders to one or several receivers. A channel has a certain capacity for transmitting information, often measured by its bandwidth in Hz or its data rate in bits per second.
A digital subscriber line access multiplexer is a network device, often located in telephone exchanges, that connects multiple customer digital subscriber line (DSL) interfaces to a high-speed digital communications channel using multiplexing techniques.
ISDN Digital Subscriber Line (IDSL) uses ISDN-based digital subscriber line technology to provide a data communication channel across existing copper telephone lines at a rate of 144 kbit/s, slightly higher than a bonded dual channel ISDN connection at 128kbit/s. The digital transmission bypasses the telephone company's central office equipment that handles analogue signals. IDSL uses the ISDN grade loop without Basic Rate Interface in ISDN transmission mode. The benefits of IDSL over ISDN are that IDSL provides always-on connections and transmits data via a data network rather than the carrier's voice network.
In telecommunications, a point-to-point connection refers to a communications connection between two communication endpoints or nodes. An example is a telephone call, in which one telephone is connected with one other, and what is said by one caller can only be heard by the other. This is contrasted with a point-to-multipoint or broadcast connection, in which many nodes can receive information transmitted by one node. Other examples of point-to-point communications links are leased lines, microwave radio relay and two-way radio.
In telecommunication, common-channel signaling (CCS), or common-channel interoffice signaling (CCIS), is the transmission of control information (signaling) via a separate channel than that used for the messages, The signaling channel usually controls multiple message channels.
The public switched telephone network (PSTN) is the aggregate of the world's circuit-switched telephone networks that are operated by national, regional, or local telephony operators, providing infrastructure and services for public telecommunication. The PSTN consists of telephone lines, fiber optic cables, microwave transmission links, cellular networks, communications satellites, and undersea telephone cables, all interconnected by switching centers, thus allowing most telephones to communicate with each other. Originally a network of fixed-line analog telephone systems, the PSTN is now almost entirely digital in its core network and includes mobile and other networks, as well as fixed telephones.
The ISDN User Part or ISUP is part of Signaling System No. 7 (SS7), which is used to set up telephone calls in the public switched telephone network (PSTN). It is specified by the ITU-T as part of the Q.76x series.
The ideal telecommunication network has the following characteristics: broadband, multi-media, multi-point, multi-rate and economical implementation for a diversity of services (multi-services). The Broadband Integrated Services Digital Network (B-ISDN) was planned to provide these characteristics. Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) was promoted as a target technology for meeting these requirements.
A duplex communication system is a point-to-point system composed of two or more connected parties or devices that can communicate with one another in both directions. Duplex systems are employed in many communications networks, either to allow for simultaneous communication in both directions between two connected parties or to provide a reverse path for the monitoring and remote adjustment of equipment in the field. There are two types of duplex communication systems: full-duplex (FDX) and half-duplex (HDX).
Connection-oriented communication is a network communication mode in telecommunications and computer networking, where a communication session or a semi-permanent connection is established before any useful data can be transferred, and where a stream of data is delivered in the same order as it was sent. The alternative to connection-oriented transmission is connectionless communication, for example the datagram mode communication used by the IP and UDP protocols, where data may be delivered out of order, since different network packets are routed independently, and may be delivered over different paths.
ITU-T Recommendation Q.931 is the ITU standard ISDN connection control signalling protocol, forming part of Digital Subscriber Signalling System No. 1. Unlike connectionless systems like UDP, ISDN is connection oriented and uses explicit signalling to manage call state: Q.931. Q.931 typically does not carry user data. Q.931 does not have a direct equivalent in the Internet Protocol stack, but can be compared to SIP. Q.931 does not provide flow control or perform retransmission, since the underlying layers are assumed to be reliable and the circuit-oriented nature of ISDN allocates bandwidth in fixed increments of 64 kbit/s. Amongst other things, Q.931 manages connection setup and breakdown. Like TCP, Q.931 documents both the protocol itself and a protocol state machine.
A digital subscriber line (DSL) modem is a device used to connect a computer or router to a telephone line which provides the digital subscriber line service for connection to the Internet, which is often called DSL broadband.
In computer networking, a flit is a link-level atomic piece that forms a network packet or stream. The first flit, called the header flit holds information about this packet's route and sets up the routing behavior for all subsequent flits associated with the packet. The head flit is followed by zero or more body flits, containing the actual payload of data. The final flit, called the tail flit, performs some book keeping to close the connection between the two nodes.