Difference between Circuit switching and Message switching

Circuit switching and Message switching are both telecommunication techniques that are used to transfer data from a source to a destination with minimal loss in transmission.

Circuit switching is a way of constructing a dedicated network in which two network nodes create a dedicated communications channel before connecting. In message switching, the source and destination nodes are not connected; the intermediate nodes are in charge of data transfer.

Read through this article to find out more about Circuit switching and Message switching and how they are different from each other.

What is Circuit Switching?

In circuit switching, networks create dedicated transmission channels. While other newer methods continue to evolve, this conventional sort of transmission methodology has remained in use.

Circuit switching follows a simple mechanism of data transmission. It entails configuring specific design circuits or lines for a network's path. The sender can now convey a succession of data items to the recipient using this particular trajectory.

This is in contrast to packet switching, which is a different mechanism. Individual packets of data are transported individually in a packet switching transmission system, and they may even take various routes to reach their destination.

The telecom sector is where these two very distinct sorts of communications have been used extensively.

  • Circuit switching was employed in traditional landlines, and fiber optic cables were set up for each telephone call.

  • Packet switching provides for a more modular style of data delivery, which can require some wait times in newer transmissions, such as cell phone communications and the Internet. Before delivering packets to a user, network recipients usually rearrange them logically and perform other tasks.

What is Message Switching?

Message switching is a network switching mechanism that routes data from a source to a destination node, one hop at a time. Every intermediary switch in the network stores the entire message during message routing.

If all of the network's resources are used up or blocked, the message-switched network stores and delays the message until enough resources are available to be transmitted effectively.

  • Message switching was used as an efficient substitute for circuit switching before the improvements in packet switching. It was first used in data transmission systems like telex networks and paper tape relay systems.

  • Although packet switching has mostly superseded message switching, it is still used in ad hoc sensor networks, military networks, and satellite communication networks.

  • The source and destination nodes in message switching are not connected directly. Instead, the message is sent from one node to the next through intermediary nodes (mostly switches). Hence, each network intermediary node must save each message before retransmitting it one at a time as resources allow. Notices are retained forever if resources are unavailable. This characteristic is referred to known as "store and forward".

Difference between Circuit Switching and Message Switching

The following table highlights the major differences between Circuit switching and Message switching.

KeyCircuit SwitchingMessage Switching
Circuit switching is a type of method where a dedicated network is implemented in which two network nodes establish a dedicated communications channel (circuit) through that network before the nodes may communicate.
In Message switching, the source and destination nodes are not connected with each other. The data transfer is done by the intermediate nodes.
Path and Node
In Circuit switching, a dedicated path is established between the two nodes at each end, i.e., sender and receiver, which is entirely responsible for the transmission of information.
In case of Message Switching, no such dedicated path is established, as the path used in this switching consists of several nodes between the sender and the receiver and each node is responsible for transferring the message from one node to the next.
Message storage
As there are only two nodes in case of Circuit switching, there is no requirement of storing the data at any node.
Message generated at the sender side gets transmitted to the receiver directly without getting stored or retransmitted in the path through the node.
In case of Message switching, each node acts as sender and receiver and stores the incoming information before sending it to the next node. This makes each node in this switching capable to recover the data if gets lost due to any reason.
As the nodes do not save the data during the transmission, there is no option to resend it if the data gets lost due to some reason until the sender sends it again.
In message switching, if the data gets lost due to some reason, then the corresponding node could resend it as the data has been stored.
Circuit switching reserves the full bandwidth in advance, as there are only two nodes and a dedicated path for transmission.
Message Switching does not reserve the entire bandwidth in advance. It consumes bandwidth node per node as per the requirement and releases the bandwidth when it gets free.
Geographical addressing is used in Circuit Switching based on the geo-location of both the nodes.
Hierarchical addressing is implemented in case of Message Switching, as there is hierarchical connection between the nodes used in this type of switching.


To conclude, there is no dedicated connection in Message Switching between the sender and the receiver. The data packets from a sender travel from one node to another till they reach their destination at the receiver. In contrast, circuit switching establishes a stable dedicated connection between the sender and the receiver before initiating the transmission process.