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Packet-switched network

Packet-switched network

(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.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security