packet switching

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(n.) A method of transferring data by addressing blocks of information, occupying a channel only while data is being transmitted. After transmission, the channel is free to transfer other packets. The data network determines the routing during the transfer of a packet. In circuit switching, by contrast, the routing is determined prior to transfer. In packet switching, packets do not always arrive in the order in which they are sent. Therefore, circuit switching is used when data such as audio files must stream over a network in order.