A method and apparatus for the transparent, non-disruptable transfer of data, particularly multimedia data, through any packet-based network, such as an ATM network is provided. The method of the present invention includes the step of setting a primary path and a secondary path between nodes of a network, or of a network domain. Accordingly, when a switch or node establishes a Virtual Path (VP) to another switch with specified effective bandwidth, it also has an alternate VP that is available, although no bandwidth is actually used. The method of the present invention further includes the step of optimizing the available capacity of the system through management actions. For handling congestion and resource failures, the total effective bandwidth on each physical link is categorized in terms of idle capacity (unused or available), used capacity (for existing VPs), and spare capacity. When a resource failure occurs, the idle capacity is used for real-time switching of the VP and service is not disrupted. This is accomplished by an alarm indication management cell which is delivered when a resource problem is encountered. This management cell sets forth the secondary path and the bandwidth associated therewith. On the other hand, if idle capacity does not exist, the spare capacity is used, while the bandwidth of all other VPs is reconfigured using virtual bandwidth optimization. Therefore, service disruption does not occur. In a wireless, mobile network, the present invention monitors node movement and takes management actions on the basis of such node movement to prevent service disruption.