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Glossary

What is Public Switched Network (PSN)?

The Public Switched Network (PSN), also known as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), is a global telecommunications infrastructure that provides the foundation for traditional landline telephone communication. It is a circuit-switched network that enables the routing and connection of voice calls between different telephone users around the world. 


  • The PSN encompasses a vast network of interconnected switches, transmission lines, and signaling systems operated by telecommunications service providers.


  • The PSN infrastructure consists of physical copper or fiber-optic cables that span across countries and continents. 


  • These cables carry voice signals as electrical impulses or light signals, allowing for the transmission of analog or digital voice data. 


  • The network is divided into local exchanges or central offices, which are interconnected by long-distance trunk lines. 


  • When a call is made, it is routed through the network by switches at various points until it reaches the recipient's telephone line.


  • The PSN provides several key functionalities that support telephone communication. These include call setup and teardown, call routing, call signaling, and call quality maintenance. 


  • Call setup involves establishing a connection between the calling and receiving parties, while call teardown terminates the connection once the call is finished. 


  • Call routing determines the most efficient path for a call to reach its destination, considering factors such as distance, cost, and available network capacity. 


  • Call signaling protocols, such as SS7 (Signaling System 7), facilitate the exchange of control information between switches for call setup and signaling purposes. 


  • Call quality is maintained through mechanisms such as echo cancellation and noise reduction techniques.


  • In addition to voice calls, the PSN also supports additional services like fax transmission, data transmission at lower speeds (such as dial-up internet connections), and signaling for advanced features like caller ID and call waiting. 


  • However, with the advent of digital technologies and the rise of Voice over IP (VoIP) systems, the PSN has evolved to incorporate digital switching equipment and carry digital voice signals alongside analog signals.


  • It's important to note that as technology advances, the traditional PSN is gradually being replaced or supplemented by IP-based networks, which transmit voice data as packets over the internet. 


  • Nevertheless, the PSN continues to play a significant role in global telecommunication infrastructure, ensuring reliable and widespread telephone communication for millions of users worldwide.


Conclusion: Therefore, the Public Switched Network (PSN) or Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is a global telecommunications infrastructure that supports traditional landline telephone communication. It is a circuit-switched network that routes voice calls between users through a vast network of interconnected switches and transmission lines. 


The PSN provides call setup, routing, signaling, and call quality maintenance functionalities. While the rise of digital and IP-based networks has impacted its prominence, the PSN remains a vital component of global telecommunication infrastructure.


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