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Packet switching

Packet switching is a digital networking communications method that groups all transmitted data into suitably sized blocks, called packets, that are transmitted via a medium that may be shared by multiple simultaneous communication sessions. Packet switching increases network efficiency, robustness and enables technological convergence of many applications operating on the same network.

Packets are composed of a header and payload. Information in the header is used by networking hardware to direct the packet to its destination where the payload is extracted and used by application software.

Packet switching was developed in the 1960s and 1970s and has evolved through early implementations to widespread use in X.25 networks and the ARPANET. Today it is a fundamental technology used in the Internet and most local area networks.