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Data Communication

In Data Communications, data generally are defined as information that is stored in digital form.
Data communications is the process of transferring digital information between two or more points.
Information is defined as the knowledge or intelligence. Data communications can be summarized as
the transmission, reception, and processing of digital information. The effectiveness of a data
communications system depends on four fundamental characteristics: delivery, accuracy, timeliness,
and jitter.

A data communications system has five components:

1. Message: The message is the information (data) to be communicated. Popular forms of

information include text, numbers, pictures, audio, and video.

2. Sender: The sender is the device that sends the data message. It can be a computer, workstation,
telephone handset, video camera, and so on.

3. Receiver: The receiver is the device that receives the message. It can be a computer, workstation,
telephone handset, television, and so on.

4. Transmission medium: The transmission medium is the physical path by which a message travels
from sender to receiver. Some examples of transmission media include twisted-pair wire, coaxial
cable, fiber-optic cable, and radio waves.

5. Protocol: A protocol is a set of rules that govern data communications. It represents an

agreement between the communicating devices.

Layered Network Architecture

To reduce the design complexity, most of the networks are organized as a series of layers or levels,
each one build upon one below it. The basic idea of a layered architecture is to divide the design
into small pieces. Each layer adds to the services provided by the lower layers in such a manner that
the highest layer is provided a full set of services to manage communications and run the
applications. The benefits of the layered models are modularity and clear interfaces, i.e. open
architecture and comparability between the different providers' components.

The basic elements of a layered model are services, protocols and interfaces. A service is a set of
actions that a layer offers to another (higher) layer. Protocol is a set of rules that a layer uses to
exchange information with a peer entity. These rules concern both the contents and the order of the
messages used. Between the layers service interfaces are defined. The messages from one layer to
another are sent through those interfaces.

With layered architectures, communications between two corresponding layers requires a unit of
data called a protocol data unit (PDU). A PDU can be a header added at the beginning of a message
or a trailer appended to the end of a message. Data flows downward through the layers in the
source system and upwards at the destination address. As data passes from one layer into another,
headers and trailers are added and removed from the PDU. This process of adding or removing PDU
information is called encapsulation/decapsulation. Between each pair of adjacent layers there is an
interface. The interface defines which primitives operations and services the lower layer offers to
the upper layer adjacent to it. A set of layers and protocols is known as network architecture. A list
of protocols used by a certain system, one protocol per layer, is called protocol stack.
Q.1 Why layered architecture is preferred in computer network design?
Layered architectures have several advantages. Some of them are

1. Modularity and clear interface.

2. Provide flexibility to modify network services
3. Ensure independence of layers
4. Management of network architecture is easy
5. Each layer can be analyzed and tested independent of other layers

Open Systems Interconnection (OSI)

The term “open” denotes the ability to connect any two systems which conform to the reference
model and associated standards. The OSI model describes how information or data makes its way
from application programmes (such as spreadsheets) through a network medium (such as wire) to
another application programme located on another network. The OSI reference model divides the
problem of moving information between computers over a network medium into SEVEN smaller and
more manageable problems. The seven layers are:
The lower 4 layers (transport, network, data link and physical —Layers 4, 3, 2, and 1) are concerned
with the flow of data from end to end through the network. The upper four layers of the OSI model
(application, presentation and session—Layers 7, 6 and 5) are orientated more toward services to
the applications. Data is Encapsulated with the necessary protocol information as it moves down the
layers before network transit.

1. Physical Layer {the physical layer is responsible for transmitting individual bits from one
node to the next}

The physical layer is the lowest layer of the OSI hierarchy and coordinates the functions required to
transmit a bit stream over a physical medium. It also defines the procedures and functions that
physical devices and interfaces have to perform for transmission occur. The physical layer specifies
the type of transmission medium and the transmission mode (simplex, half duplex or full duplex) and
the physical, electrical, functional and procedural standards for accessing data communication

Transmission media defined by the physical layer include metallic cable, optical fiber cable or
wireless radio-wave propagation. The physical layer also includes the carrier system used to
propagate the data signals between points in the network. The carrier systems are simply
communication systems that carry data through a system using either metallic or optical fiber cables
or wireless arrangements such as microwave, satellites and cellular radio systems.

2. Data-link Layer {the data link layer is responsible for transmitting frames from one node to
the next}

The data link layer transforms the physical layer, a raw transmission facility, to a reliable link and is
responsible for node-to-node delivery. It makes the physical layer appear error free to the upper
layer (network layer).

The data link layer packages data from the physical layer into groups called blocks, frames or
packets. If frames are to be distributed to different systems on the network, the data link layer adds
a header to the frame to define the physical address of the sender (source address) and/or receiver
(destination address) of the frame. The data-link layer provides flow-control, access-control, and
3. Network Layer {is responsible for the delivery of individual packets from the source host to
the destination host}

The network layer provides details that enable data to be routed between devices in an
environment using multiple networks, subnetworks or both. This is responsible for addressing
messages and data so they are sent to the correct destination, and for translating logical addresses
and names (like a machine name FLAME) into physical addresses. This layer is also responsible for
finding a path through the network to the destination computer.

The network layer provides the upper layers of the hierarchy with independence from the data
transmission and switching technologies used to interconnect systems. Networking components that
operate at the network layer include routers and their software.

4. Transport Layer {is responsible for delivery of a message from one process to another}

The transport layer controls and ensures the end-to-end integrity of the data message propagated
through the network between two devices, providing the reliable, transparent transfer of data
between two endpoints.

Transport layer responsibilites includes message routing, segmenting, error recovery and two types
of basic services to an upper-layer protocol: connection oriented and connectionless. The transport
layer is the highest layer in the OSI hierarchy in terms of communicatons and may provide data
tracking, connection flow control, sequencing of data, error checking, and application addressing
and identification.

5. Session Layer {responsible for dialog control and synchronization}

Session layer, some times called the dialog controller provides mechanism for controlling the
dialogue between the two end systems. It defines how to start, control and end conversations
(called sessions) between applications.
Session layer protocols provide the logical connection entities at the application layer. These
applications include file transfer protocols and sending email. Session responsibilities include
network log-on and log-off procedures and user authentication. Session layer characteristics include
virtual connections between applications, entities, synchronization of data flow for recovery
purposes, creation of dialogue units and activity units, connection parameter negotiation, and
partitioning services into functional groups.

6. Presentation Layer {responsible for translation, compression, and encryption}

The presentation layer provides independence to the application processes by addressing any code
or syntax conversion necessary to present the data to the network in a common communications
format. It specifies how end-user applications should format the data.

The presentation layer translated between different data formats and protocols. Presentation
functions include data file formatting, encoding, encryption and decryption of data messages,
dialogue procedures, data compression algorithms, synchronization, interruption, and termination.

7. Application Layer {responsible for providing services to the user}

The application layer is the highest layer in the hierarchy and is analogous to the general manager of
the network by providing access to the OSI environment. The applications layer provides distributed
information services and controls the sequence of activities within and application and also the
sequence of events between the computer application and the user of another application.
The application layer communicates directly with the user’s application program. User application
processes require application layer service elements to access the networking environment. The
service elements are of two types: CASEs (common application service elements) satisfying
particular needs of application processes like association control, concurrence and recovery. The
second type is SASE (specific application service elements) which include TCP/IP stack, FTP, SNMP,
Telnet and SMTP.

TCP/IP Protocol
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) created the TCP/IP reference model because it wanted a
network that could survive any conditions, even a nuclear war. Transmission Control
Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) {commonly known as internet suite} model is a set of
communication protocols that allow communication across multiple diverse networks. TCP/IP is a
hierarchical protocol comprised of either three or four layers. The three-layer version of TCP/IP
contains the network, transport and application layers. Four layer version specifies the host to
network layer.

TCP/IP is a protocol suite (a set of protocols organized in different layers) used in the Internet today.
It is a hierarchical protocol made up of interactive modules, each of which provides a specific
functionality. The term hierarchical means that each upper level protocol is supported by the
services provided by one or more lower level protocols.
The designers of TCP/IP felt that the higher level protocols should include the session and
presentation layer details. They simply created an application layer that handles highlevel protocols,
issues of representation, encoding, and dialog control. The TCP/IP combines all application-related
issues into one layer, and assures this data is properly packaged for the next layer.

The TCP/IP transport layer deals with the quality-of-service issues of reliability, flow control, and
error correction. One of its protocols, the transmission control protocol (TCP), provides excellent and
flexible ways to create reliable, well-flowing, low-error network communications. TCP is a
connection-oriented protocol. The other protocol is User Datagram Protocol (UDP) which is a
connection less protocol.

The purpose of the Internet layer is to send source packets from any network on the internetwork
and have them arrive at the destination independent of the path and networks they took to get
there. The specific protocol that governs this layer is called the Internet protocol (IP). Best path
determination and packet switching occur at this layer.

The network access layer also called the host-to-network layer is concerned with all of the issues of
physically delivering data packets using frames or cells.

Physical Layer We can say that the physical layer is responsible for carrying individual bits in a frame
across the link. Although the physical layer is the lowest level in the TCP/IP protocol suite, the
communication between two devices at the physical layer is still a logical communication because
there is another, hidden layer, the transmission media, under the physical layer.

Data-link Layer TCP/IP does not define any specific protocol for the data-link layer. It supports all the
standard and proprietary protocols. Any protocol that can take the datagram and carry it through
the link suffices for the network layer. The data-link layer takes a datagram and encapsulates it in a
packet called a frame. Each link-layer protocol may provide a different service. Some link-layer
protocols provide complete error detection and correction, some provide only error correction.
Network Layer The network layer is responsible for creating a connection between the source
computer and the destination computer. The communication at the network layer is host-to-host.
The network layer in the Internet includes the main protocol, Internet Protocol (IP), that defines the
format of the packet, called a datagram at the network layer. IP also defines the format and the
structure of addresses used in this layer. IP is also responsible for routing a packet from its source to
its destination, which is achieved by each router forwarding the datagram to the next router in its
path. IP is a connectionless protocol that provides no flow control, no error control, and no
congestion control services.

Transport Layer The logical connection at the transport layer is also end-to-end. The transport layer
at the source host gets the message from the application layer, encapsulates it in a transportlayer
packet (called a segment or a user datagram in different protocols) and sends it, through the logical
(imaginary) connection, to the transport layer at the destination host. In other words, the transport
layer is responsible for giving services to the application layer: to get a message from an application
program running on the source host and deliver it to the corresponding application program on the
destination host. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), is a connection-oriented protocol that first
establishes a logical connection between transport layers at two hosts before transferring data. It
creates a logical pipe between two TCPs for transferring a stream of bytes. TCP provides flow control
(matching the sending data rate of the source host with the receiving data rate of the destination
host to prevent overwhelming the destination), error control (to guarantee that the segments arrive
at the destination without error and resending the corrupted ones), and congestion control to
reduce the loss of segments due to congestion in the network.

Application Layer The two application layers exchange messages between each other as though
there were a bridge between the two layers. However, we should know that the communication is
done through all the layers. Communication at the application layer is between two processes (two
programs running at this layer).

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a vehicle for accessing the World Wide Web (WWW). The
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is the main protocol used in electronic mail (e-mail) service.
The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is used for transferring files from one host to another. The Terminal
Network (TELNET) and Secure Shell (SSH) are used for accessing a site remotely. The Simple Network
Management Protocol (SNMP) is used by an administrator to manage the Internet at global and local
levels. The Domain Name System (DNS) is used by other protocols to find the network-layer address
of a computer. The Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) is used to collect membership in a
OSI versus TCP/IP

Differences between OSI and TCP/IP

 TCP/IP combines the presentation and session layer issues into its application layer .
 TCP/IP combines the OSI data link and physical layers into one layer.
 TCP/IP appears simpler because it has fewer layers .
 TCP/IP protocols are the standards around which the Internet developed, so the TCP/IP
model gains credibility just because of its protocols. In contrast, typically networks aren't
built on the OSI protocol, even though the OSI model is used as a guide.

Lack of OSI Model’s Success

First, OSI was completed when TCP/IP was fully in place and a lot of time and money had been spent
on the suite; changing it would cost a lot.
Second, some layers in the OSI model were never fully defined. For example, although the services
provided by the presentation and the session layers were listed in the document, actual protocols
for these two layers were not fully defined, nor were they fully described, and the corresponding
software was not fully developed.
Third, when OSI was implemented by an organization in a different application, it did not show a
high enough level of performance to entice the Internet authority to switch from the TCP/IP protocol
suite to the OSI model.

ATM model
ATM is a streamlined packet transfer interface. ATM makes use of fixed-size packets, called cells.The
use of a fixed size and fixed format results in an efficient scheme for transmission over high-speed
networks. Some form of transmission structure must be used to transport ATM cells.One option is
the use of a continuous stream of cells,with no multiplex frame structure imposed at the interface.
Synchronization is on a cell-by-cell basis.The second option is to place the cells in a synchronous
time-division multiplex envelope.In this case,the bit stream at the interface has an external frame
based on the Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH).
Asynchronous transfer mode (ATM),also known as cell relay,takes advantage of the reliability and
fidelity of modern digital facilities to provide faster packet switching than X.25.

The standards issued for ATM by ITU-T are based on the protocol architecture shown in Figure 11.1,
which illustrates the basic architecture for an interface between user and network.The physical layer
involves the specification of a transmission medium and a signal encoding scheme.The data rates
specified at the physical layer range from 25.6 Mbps to 622.08 Mbps. Other data rates, both higher
and lower,are possible.

Two layers of the protocol architecture relate to ATM functions.There is an ATM layer common to all
services that provides packet transfer capabilities,and an ATM adaptation layer (AAL) that is service
dependent.The ATM layer defines the transmission of data in fixed-size cells and defines the use of
logical connections. The use of ATM creates the need for an adaptation layer to support information
transfer protocols not based on ATM.The AAL maps higher-layer information into ATM cells to be
transported over an ATM network,then collects information from ATM cells for delivery to higher

The protocol reference model involves three separate planes:

• User plane: Provides for user information transfer,along with associated controls (e.g.,flow
control,error control)

• Control plane: Performs call control and connection control functions

• Management plane: Includes plane management, which performs management functions related
to a system as a whole and provides coordination between all the planes, and layer management,
which performs management functions relating to resources and parameters residing in its protocol
System Network Architecture (SNA)
IBM has developed its own non-OSI LAN for interconnecting PCs, known as System Network
Architecture (SNA). Although SNA is a non-OSI architecture, its upper layers perform the functions
of the application layer of OSI-RM. In this architecture, users can define their private networks on a
host or even on sub-networks. The SNA architecture is a complete model of layers, and each layer
has specific specifications and implementation guidelines.

SNA is centralized, works on a host machine, does not lose data, is connection-oriented, is difficult to
maintain, and is very complex. In contrast to this, TCP/IP is highly distributed, works on a network,
loses data, is connectionless, is easy to maintain, and is less complex.

The SNA network is a seven-layered model, similar to OSI-RM. Although each of the layers has
specific functions (as in OSI-RM), these are different from their counterpart layers of OSI-RM. In
other words, although SNA and OSI-RM are totally different, they have some common functions at
lower layers. Further, the main difference between these models lies in the type of network,
communication, architectural products, and protocols.

the SNA provides a communication system between homogeneous networks and offers the
complete system which takes into account the management, data integrity, control, adaptability,
speed, maintenance, etc. These issues are not well defined and implemented in OSI-RM, due to the
fact that in OSI-RM, most of the architecture components for higher layers are not available and are
usually implemented as application programs.

End user layer: This layer is analogous to the application layer of OSI-RM and supports functions
such as application programs, user processes, and even users’ hardware devices to be interfaced
with the top layer.Typically, an application program requires two types of tasks: execution of the
application program and distributed application processing. Each of these tasks is defined as a
sequence of processes or sub-tasks which are performed on different computer systems

Network access service (NAS) layer:Although this layer is analogous to the presentation layer of OSI-
RM, it offers the functions of the presentation and session layers. The functions offered by the
presentation layer of OSI-RM include text formatting, syntax transformation, text compression, code
conversion and coding, etc., and various services offered by the session layer of OSI-RM include
establishing a session and logical connections, management of the connection, etc. The SNA network
defines different types of units/controls which are collectively known as network addressable units
(NAUs). These units are physical units (PUs) logical units (LUs) and system service control points
Data flow layer:This layer is analogous to the session layer of OSI-RM but supports its functions as
services for the NAS layer. The function of the data flow layer is to maintain and regulate the half
session (seen by an LU). It checks the working of various primitives, generates a sequence number,
maintains a table for the request response relationship of individual users and groups of users, etc.

Transmission control layer: This layer is analogous to the transport layer of OSI-RM. The main
function of this layer is to provide a transport connection between two sites. Other functions of this
layer include data flow control (after a session is established), interface to the higher layers
(independent of the type of network under consideration, in particular the transport connection),
multiplexing/de-multiplexing for higher layers, etc. In some cases, it also supports encoding and
decoding of signals. This layer includes the higher level task of identifying the endpoints of a session
between users and must perform functions of interaction at the endpoints.

Path control layer : This layer is analogous to the network layer of OSI-RM and offers some of its
functions. It offers the functions of routing and congestion control. Other functions of this layer
include conversion of transmission layer units into path information units; allowing users to share
remote resources, programs, and files; and the transformation of information units between NAS
and path control layers over the network as well as the routing information of each of the
information bits. This control exists for every node of the network. The path control layer’s routing
functions define a logical channel and are responsible for delivering the packet to the destination.

Data link layer: This layer is analogous to the data link layer of OSI-RM and offers more or less the
same functions as in OSI-RM, including error control, flow control, etc. Higher layers are not aware
of each of the functions provided by this layer, except that these layers may be notified about the
errors detected. Error control, including error detection, correction, and recovery, is performed
solely by this layer. It provides communication links over which the data communication takes place.
The data link protocol synchronous data link control (SDLC) provides the common line configurations
for data communication across the network.

Physical layer: This is the lowest layer of the SNA network and is analogous to the physical layer of
OSI-RM. The function of this layer is basically the same as that in OSI-RM: to accept the raw stream
of data from the data link layer and transmit it over the transmission link/medium.

RS 232 C
The Electronic Industry Association (EIA) has defined the RS-232 standard interface of the DTE with
DCE which is connected to the analog public telephone system, as shown in Figure 10.3

The RS-232 DTE/DCE interface supports both transmission (synchronous and asynchronous) schemes
for data communication and can also be used for other types of interfacing. It contains a 25-pin, D-
shaped connector which can be easily plugged into the modem socket and which is also known as a
DB-25 connector
RS-232C is a long-established standard ("C" is the current version) that describes the physical interface
and protocol for relatively low-speed serial data communication Networks between computers and
related devices.
RS-232C is the interface that your computer uses to talk to and exchange data with your modem and
other serial devices. RS-232C is the interface between your Communication networks and other
communication networks.

Network Topologies
In computer networking, topology refers to the layout of connected devices, i.e. how the computers,
cables, and other components within a data communications network are interconnected, both
physically and logically. The physical topology describes how the network is actually laid out, and the
logical topology describes how the data actually flow through the network. Two most basic topologies
are point-to-point and multipoint. A pointto-point topology usually connects two mainframe
computers for high-speed digital information. A multipoint topology connects three or more stations
through a single transmission medium and some examples are star, bus, ring, mesh and hybrid.
Star topology: A star topology is designed with each node (file server, workstations, and peripherals)
connected directly to a central network hub, switch, or concentrator. Data on a star network passes
through the hub, switch, or concentrator before continuing to its destination. The hub, switch, or
concentrator manages and controls all functions of the network. It also acts as a repeater for the data

Bus topology: Bus networks use a common backbone to connect all devices. A single cable, (the
backbone) functions as a shared communication medium that devices attach or tap into with an
interface connector. A device wanting to communicate with another device on the network sends a
broadcast message onto the wire that all other devices see, but only the intended recipient actually
accepts and processes the message. The bus topology is the simplest and most common method of
interconnecting computers. The two ends of the transmission line never touch to form a complete
loop. A bus topology is also known as multidrop or linear bus or a horizontal bus.
Ring topology: In a ring network (sometimes called a loop), every device has exactly two neighbours
for communication purposes. All messages travel through a ring in the same direction (either
"clockwise" or "counter clockwise"). All the stations are interconnected in tandem (series) to form a
closed loop or circle. Transmissions are unidirectional and must propagate through all the stations in
the loop. Each computer acts like a repeater and the ring topology is similar to bus or star topologies.

Mesh topology: The mesh topology incorporates a unique network design in which each computer
on the network connects to every other, creating a point-to-point connection between every device
on the network. Unlike each of the previous topologies, messages sent on a mesh network can take
any of several possible paths from source to destination. A mesh network in which every device
connects to every other is called a full mesh. A disadvantage is that, a mesh network with n nodes
must have n(n-1)/2 links and each node must have n-1 I/O ports (links).

Hybrid topology: This topology (sometimes called mixed topology) is simply combining two or more
of the traditional topologies to form a larger, more complex topology. Main aim is being able to
share the advantages of different topologies.
Switching techniques
A computer network may be defined either as a set of terminals connected to a computer or as an
interconnection between computers. In general, computer networks include both computers,
terminals, transmission links, hosts, etc. This interconnection between computers allows the
computers to share the data and interact with each other. Sometimes the computer network thus
defined is also known as a shared network. In shared networks switching for routing the data
packets performs the following functions:

1. The routing of information between source and destination across the network.
2. The link-utilization techniques which can transmit the traffic equally (depending on the capacity of
the links) on all links.

These switching functions can be performed on interconnected computers by the following

switching techniques:

• Circuit switching
• Message switching
• Packet switching

These three switching techniques allow users to achieve maximum utilization of resources by using
suitable resource allocation strategies.

Circuit switching
In circuit switching, a complete circuit (route or path) between source and destination nodes is
established before the data can be transmitted. The circuit between source and destination can be
established on any communication link/transmission medium (telephone lines, coaxial cable,
satellite link, microwave link, etc.). The establishment of the circuit is based on the bits contained in
the data frame. A line contention delay is a major problem in circuit-switched networks.

The following three steps are required to establish connections:

1. Setup of link: This detects a subscriber’s request for service, identifies the terminal, searches and grabs a
circuit, informs the required terminal, receives its response, and, after the data is transmitted, de-establishes
the circuit (connection).
2. Hold-up of link: The established link is held during the transmission of data between source and destination
and sends out the billing information (depending on the distance and duration of the connection) to the
3. Release of the link: After the communication is completed, the link channels and shared devices are
As circuit-switching systems require a dedicated circuit before the data can be sent, this technique is inefficient
and uneconomical. this technique is not useful for the applications which require minimum setup time.

Message switching
In message switching, an individual message is separately switched at each node along its route or
path from source to destination. A circuit (or path) is not established exclusively for a message;
instead, messages are sent using the store-and-forward approach. Each message is divided into
blocks of data by users based on the capacity of the networks, and these blocks are transmitted in a
sequence. The receiver, after receiving these blocks, constructs the original message from the blocks
(by putting them in the same sequence as when it was transmitted) and sends an acknowledgment
to the source.

The switching nodes store the blocks of messages and look for the free link to another switching
intermediate node. If it finds any free node, it sends one block at a time to that node until all the
stored blocks are sent. If it does not find any free node, it will store the blocks and keep on trying to
find free links until it finds one and transmits the block to it.

The message-switching technique is less expensive than circuit switching and is widely used as a
technique for interconnection. However, it does not support dynamic load balancing and, as such,
heavy traffic on a particular node will be handled by itself.
There is no limit on the size of the blocks of messages, which presents two obvious problems: (1) the
switching node must have enough storage capability for storing the blocks, and (2) if a free link
between source and destination is busy for a long time, then waiting and response time for the
blocks to be transmitted may be significant. Thus, the technique seems to be useful for batched
messages of longer duration but not suitable for interactive messages of shorter duration.

Once a route is established in a message-switched network, it does not present any delay to the
transmission of the message except the transmission delay, propagation time, etc. Thus, the transfer
time for the message depends on these parameters and it also may depend on the amount of traffic
in the network.

Packet switching
In principle, packet switching is based on the concept of message switching with the following
• Packets are parts of messages and include control bits (for detecting transmission errors).
• Networks break the messages into blocks (or packets), while in message switching, this is
performed by the users.
• Due to very small storage time of packets in the waiting queue at any node, users experience
bidirectional transmission of the packets in real time.

In packet switching, the message is divided into blocks (or packets) of fixed size and, further, each
packet has its own control information regarding the routing, etc., across the network. This means
the packets may follow different routes across the networks between source and destination and
that they also may arrive at the destination in a different sequence. The receiver, after receiving the
packets out of sequence, has to arrange the packets in the same order as they were transmitted
from the source.

 Due to fixed or limited size of packets and also due to different routing of the packets, the
switching nodes store the packets in the main memory as opposed to a secondary storage
device (disk) in message switching.
 The packet-switching technique allows the switching nodes to transmit the packets without
waiting for a complete message and also allows them to adjust the traffic they have, thus
minimizing the resource requirements of the nodes. If any particular node is already heavily
loaded, it will reject the packets until its load becomes moderate.

Packet-switched networks basically work on the same principle as that of messageswitched

networks, except that here the message information is broken into packets which contain a
header field along with the message information.

Due to the fixed size of the packets (compared to any size of the message block in the case of
message-switched networks), there is an improvement on the performance of the network, and
also the utilization of the communication link is improved. This network can be used in two
different modes of operation: datagram and virtual circuit.

Advantages and disadvantages of packet switching: The packet-switched network offers the
following advantages over circuit switching (also message switching):

1. The link utilization is improved, since the link can be shared by a number of different packets.
Each node has its own queue storing those packets which are going to use the node. After the
communication link is established, the packets (of different or the same data messages) may be
transmitted during the established connection.

2. In the case of packet-switched networks, stations with different data rates can communicate
with each other, and the necessary conversion between different data rates is done by the
network, while in the case of circuit-switched networks, both stations must have the same data

3. In circuit-switched networks, the packets may be lost, as the network will not accept them in
the event of a busy network, while the packets will be accepted in the case of a packet-switched
network but there may be some delay in their delivery.
4. The delay in the transmission of packets at any node may become a problem in the case of
packet-switched networks, while in the case of circuit-switched networks, a dedicated circuit has
been established and hence there is no delay in the transmission.

5. Priorities can be assigned to the switching nodes in the packet-switched networks such that
nodes with higher priorities will transmit the packets waiting in their respective queues before
the lower-priority nodes. In the case of circuit-switched networks, there is no concept of priority.

6. Circuit-switched networks generate the ordered delivery of the packets, while packet-
switched networks do not give any guarantee for the ordered delivery of the packets.

The following is a brief summary of various parameters in different switching techniques:

• Delay:

Message-switching (second to minutes)

Packet-switching (microseconds to second)
Circuit-switching (few microseconds)

• Memory requirement en route:

Message-switching (high)
Packet-switching (low)
Circuit-switching (none)

• Applications:
Message-switching (modern telex)
Packet-switching (telematics)