Circuit-switched is a type of network in which a physical path is obtained for and dedicated to a single connection between two end-points in the network for the duration of the connection. Ordinary voice phone service is circuit-switched. The telephone company reserves a specific physical path to the number you are calling for the duration of your call. During that time, no one else can use the physical lines involved.

Circuit-switched is often contrasted with packet-switched. Some packet-switched networks such as the X.25 network are able to have virtual circuit-switching. A virtual circuit-switched connection is a dedicated logical connection that allows sharing of the physical path among multiple virtual circuit connections.

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This was last updated in April 2007

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