The communications technology on which the Internet is based. Packets of digital data are transmitted from many people simultaneously between computers.
Packet-switching permits the transfer of data that is broken into small data packets by Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). Each data packet is sent individually and even along different routes to a specified Internet Protocol (IP) address where it is reassembled. This permits the same pathways to be used by multiple users simultaneously. In contrast, circuit-switching, the method used in Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS), requires a dedicated connection for the duration of data transfer.
A networking technology which makes it possible for data from different machines to share common transmission lines. Without it, dedicated lines linking one computer directly to another would be necessary, or at least preferred. With it in place, the network is built with lines linking node to node (one machine or network to another machine or network.) Packet-switching breaks data down into little packets, each with a code showing its destination and instructions for putting the packets back together again. The packets move individually through the network, joining up again when they all reach the destination.