What is switching? How can you differentiate packet switching from circuit switching? What are the advantages of using optical fibers?


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Switching is the mechanism in computer networks that helps in deciding the best route for data transmission if there are multiple paths in a larger network.

Larger networks may have multiple routes to link the sender and receiver. So whenever we send any information between the sender and receiver then the information switches through multiple routes.

The difference between packet switching and circuit switching are

Circuit Switching Packet Switching
In circuit switching there are 3 phases:
i) Connection Establishment.
ii) Data Transfer.
iii) Connection Released.
In Packet switching directly data transfer takes place.
In circuit switching, each data unit know the entire path address which is provided by the source. In Packet switching, each data unit just know the final destination address intermediate path is decided by the routers.
In Circuit switching, data is processed at source system only In Packet switching, data is processed at all intermediate node including source system.
Delay between data units in circuit switching is uniform. Delay between data units in packet switching is not uniform.
Resource reservation is the feature of circuit switching because path is fixed for data transmission. There is no resource reservation because bandwidth is shared among users.
Circuit switching is more reliable. Packet switching is less reliable.
Wastage of resources are more in Circuit Switching Less wastage of resources as compared to Circuit Switching
It is not a store and forward technique. It is a store and forward technique.
Transmission of the data is done by the source. Transmission of the data is done not only by the source, but also by the intermediate routers.
Congestion can occur during the connection establishment phase, because there might be a case where a request is being made for a channel but the channel is already occupied. Congestion can occur during data transfer phase, large number of packets comes in no time.
Circuit switching is not convenient for handling bilateral traffic. Packet switching is suitable for handling bilateral traffic.
In Circuit switching, charge depend on time and distance, not on traffic in the network. In Packet switching, charge is based on the number of bytes and connection time.
Recording of packet is never possible in circuit switching. Recording of packet is possible in packet switching.
In Circuit Switching there is a physical path between the source and the destination In Packet Switching there is no physical path between the source and the destination
Circuit Switching does not support store and forward transmission Packet Switching supports store and forward transmission

The major advantage of using optic fibers are

1. Bandwidth

Fiber optic cables have a much greater bandwidth than metal cables. The amount of information that can be transmitted per unit time of fiber over other transmission media is its most significant advantage.

2. Low Power Loss

An optical fiber offers low power loss, which allows for longer transmission distances. In comparison to copper, in a network, the longest recommended copper distance is 100m while with fiber, it is 2km.

3. Interference

Fiber optic cables are immune to electromagnetic interference. It can also be run in electrically noisy environments without concern as electrical noise will not affect fiber.

4. Size

In comparison to copper, a fiber optic cable has nearly 4.5 times as much capacity as the wire cable has and a cross sectional area that is 30 times less.

5. Weight

Fiber optic cables are much thinner and lighter than metal wires. They also occupy less space with cables of the same information capacity. Lighter weight makes fiber easier to install.

6. Security

Optical fibers are difficult to tap. As they do not radiate electromagnetic energy, emissions cannot be intercepted. As physically tapping the fiber takes great skill to do undetected, fiber is the most secure medium available for carrying sensitive data.

7. Flexibility

An optical fiber has greater tensile strength than copper or steel fibers of the same diameter. It is flexible, bends easily and resists most corrosive elements that attack copper cable.

8. Cost

The raw materials for glass are plentiful, unlike copper. This means glass can be made more cheaply than copper.

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