Packet-switched networks move data in separate, small data blocks, or packets as they are more commonly known, based on the destination address in each packet. When received, the packets are reassembled in the proper sequence to make up the message. The packets are not dependent on any one path or connection, and can take as many paths as necessary to maintain data integrity depending on traffic load of a shared network. Packet-switched networks are mainly used in standard LAN networks.
Circuit-switched networks require dedicated point-to-point connections during calls. The circuit guarantees the full bandwidth of the channel and remains connected for the duration of the communication session. The circuit functions as if the nodes were physically connected as with an electrical circuit. In circuit-switched networks, can signals pass through several switches before a connection is established. And during a call, no other network traffic can use those switches. Circuit-switched networks are mainly used in telecommunications such as phone lines as well as ISDN signaling, which was an early form of high speed internet access using phone lines.
Considering the prevalence of lan networking in the world as well as voip services, both types of switching protocols are used extensively. Almost every lan uses packet switching and all analog phone systems use circuit switching. There are hybrid systems which use both types of switching when dealing with a network set up to handle both analog and digital signaling.
The biggest advantage of a packet-switched network is that even if there is a lot of traffic on the network, the packets will still get to their destination, sharing bandwidth with other data streams on any one connection. This is also its disadvantage, since the network is shared then latency...