What is an ATM in the Computer Network?

ATM stands for Asynchronous transfer mode. It is a switching technique used by telecommunication networks that uses asynchronous time-division multiplexing to encode data into small, fixed-sized cells. ATMs can be used for efficient data transfer over highspeed data networks. ATM provides real-time and non-real-time services.


The services provided by ATM are as follows−

  • Available Bit Rate: It provides a guaranteed minimum capacity, but data can be burst to higher capacities when network traffic is lower.
  • Constant Bit Rate: It is used to specify a fixed bit rate so that data is sent in a steady stream. This is analogous to a leased line.
  • Unspecified Bit Rate: This doesn't assure any throughput level and is used for applications, including file share that can tolerate delays.
  • Variable Bit Rate (VBR): It can provide a determining throughput, but data is not transmitted evenly. This makes it a famous choice for voice and video conferencing.


The high-level benefits delivered through ATM services deployed on ATM technology using international ATM standards can be summarized as follows−

Dynamic bandwidth for bursty traffic

Dynamic bandwidth for bursty traffic meeting application needs and delivering a high utilization of networking resources; most applications are or can be viewed as inherently bursty. For example, voice is bursty, as both parties are neither speaking at once nor all the time; video is bursty, as the amount of motion and required resolution varies over time.

Can handle mixed network traffic very efficiently

Variety of packet sizes makes traffic unpredictable. All network types of equipment should incorporate elaborate software systems to manage the various sizes of packets. ATM handles these problems efficiently with the fixed size cell.

Cell network

All information is loaded into identical cells that can be sent with complete predictability and consistency.


It supports multimedia traffic allowing applications with varying throughput and latency requirements to be met on a single network.

Common LAN/WAN architecture

It allows ATM to be used consistently from one desktop to another; traditionally, LAN and WAN technologies have been very different, with implications for performance and interoperability. But ATM technology can be used either as a LAN technology or a WAN technology.

Updated on: 05-May-2021

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