A type of communications in which a dedicated channel (or circuit) is established for the duration of a transmission. The most ubiquitous circuit-switching network is the telephone system, which links together wire segments to create a single unbroken line for each telephone call.
Circuit-switching systems are ideal for communications that require data to be transmitted in real-time. Packet-switching networks are more efficient if some amount of delay is acceptable.
Circuit-switching networks are sometimes called connection-oriented networks. Note, however, that although packet switching is essentially connectionless, a packet switching network can be made connection-oriented by using a higher-level protocol. TCP, for example, makes IP networks connection-oriented.
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