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Computer networks involve packet switching or circuit switching for successful transmission of messages from the sender to the recipient. Packet switching refers to an approach that computer network protocols use to transfer data from its source to the receiver (Morley & Parker, 2010). This entails packaging of data in packets and routes them from the source to the destination using network routers and switches. The packets contain the address information, which ensures that the intended recipient receives the data (Morley & Parker, 2010). Circuit switching refers to a networking approach of providing a dedicated connection between the sender and the recipient (Blank, 2004). The circuit ensures that the speed or bandwidth remains fixed for the length of time during which the transfer of data takes place. This discussion will consider the key differences and similarities of packet-switched and circuit-switched networks as well as the dominating switching method.

With a circuit-switched network, data arrive at the intended destination in the same order as the sender sends it while packet switching allows data to arrive at the destination as data packets in a different order, but reassemble to form the original message (Blank, 2004). Therefore, a circuit-switched network require a stable connection during the time of data transfer while a packet-switched network can transfer data even when interruptions occur along the connection (Morley & Parker, 2010). With a packet-switched network, numerous users can use the same channel simultaneously while a circuit-switched network allows one user at a time. Communication along a circuit-switched network is reliable because the recipient must receive the message while a packet-switched network may fail to deliver some data (Blank, 2004). The only similarity between circuit-switched and packet-switched networks is that they are approaches of communication.

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Packet switching technology predominates in the contemporary society because it transmits data more efficiently than circuit switching approach does (Morley & Parker, 2010). This is because a packet-switched network allows packets of data to use the quickest network routes between the source and destination. In addition, many users of a network use the same channel simultaneously, which maximizes link efficiency. The Internet utilizes the packet switching approach (Morley & Parker, 2010).

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