You are on page 1of 9



X.25 is an International Telecommunication Standardization

Sector (ITU-T) protocol standard for packet switched
network that defines how connections between user devices
and network devices are established and maintained. A
typical X.25-based packet switched network is shown in Fig.
below. The network consists of the end systems, called data
terminal equipment (DTE), and the X.25 packet switches,
called the data circuit terminating equipment (DCE). The
packet switches are linked through communication media
for transport of data in the form of packets. The packet size
is variable, with a maximum limit of 1024 bytes.

Fig. X.25 Packet Switched Network

X.25 Protocol Suit
X.25 covers the first three layers in the OSI reference model:
physical layer, data-link layer, and network layer.
Physical layer: This layer specifies the physical interface
between the end system (DTE) and the link to the switching
node (DCE). RS232 can be used as the physical layer. X.25
makes use of the physical-layer specification in a standard

known as X.21, but, in many cases, other standards, such as

EIA-232, are substituted.
Datalink layer: This layer ensures reliable data transfer as a
sequence of frames. Link access protocol balanced (LAPB) is
used at this layer.
Network layer: This is also called the packet layer. This layer
provides the virtual circuit functionality. X.25 provides two
types of virtual circuits:
Switched virtual circuit: A virtual circuit is established
dynamically between two DTEs whenever required, using
call setup and call clearing procedures.
Permanent virtual circuit: This is a fixed, networkassigned virtual circuit, and hence call setup and call
clearing procedures are not required. This is equivalent
to a leased line.

Relationship between layers of X.25

User data are passed down to X.25 level 3, which appends
control information as a header, creating a packet. This control
information is used in the operation of the protocol. The entire
X.25 packet is then passed down to the LAPB entity, which
appends control information at the front and back of the packet,
forming an LAPB frame. Again, the control information in the
frame is needed for the operation.

Fig. Protocol encapsulation in X.25

Virtual Circuit Service

With the X.25 packet layer, data are transmitted in packets

over external virtual circuits. Fig. shows a typical sequence
of events in a virtual call. The left-hand part of the figure
shows the packets exchanged between user machine A and
the packet-switching node to which it attaches; the righthand part shows the packets exchanged between user
machine B and its node. The routing of packets inside the
network is not visible to the user.
The sequence of events is as follows:

1. Source DTE sends a call-request packet to its DCE. The

packet includes the source address, destination address,
and virtual circuit number.
2. Network routes the packet to the destination's DCE.
3. Destination's DCE sends an incoming-call packet to the
destination DTE. This packet has the same frame
format as the call-request packet but different virtual
circuit number selected by the destination's DCE.
4. Destination DTE sends a call-accepted packet.

5. Source's DCE receives call-accepted packet and sends

call-connected packet to the source DTE. Virtual circuit
number is same as that in the call-request packet.
6. Source DTE and destination DTE use their respective
virtual circuit numbers to exchange data and control
7. Source/destination sends a clear-request packet to
terminate the virtual circuit and receives a clearconfirmation packet.
8. Source/destination receives a clear-indication packet
and transmits a clear-confirmation packet.
Call setup

From DTE to DCE, call-request and callaccepted packets

From DCE to DTE, incoming-call and call-

Call clearing

connected packets
From DTE to DCE, clear-request and clearconfirmation packets
From DCE to DTE, clear-indication and
clear-confirmation packets

Data transfer

Data packets

Flow control

RR (receiver ready) packet

RNR (receiver not ready) packet
REJ (reject) packet
Reset request, reset confirmation packets

Reset packets: