(also PSN, connectionless network)
Packet-switched network definition
A packet-switched network is a digital communication network that first breaks down data into small packets and then transmits each packet individually from the source to the end node via a network channel. Each packet contains a portion of the data and metadata. Packets can take different routes to the same destination, where the network reassembles them into the original message.
Packet-switched network advantages
- Efficiency. A packet-switched network uses resources efficiently because it transmits each packet individually. As a result, it can route packets around congested areas or avoid failed network components, dynamically managing available resources and optimizing communication links.
- Scalability. A packet-switched network can easily accommodate a growing number of users or amounts of data.
- Fault tolerance. Since the packet-switched network can reroute packets to avoid problematic areas, it ensures better reliability.
- Flexibility. It can adapt to varying traffic patterns and prioritize different data types.
Packet-switched network disadvantages
- Packet loss. Losing or dropping packets during transmission can cause data corruption or the need for retransmission, affecting network performance.
- Security concerns. Since data is transmitted in separate units, ensuring data security and privacy on packet-switched networks is more challenging.
- Variable latency. Because packets take a different path to their destination, they can cause unpredictable latency, which might impact time-sensitive applications.