Types of networks
There are various types of computer networks ranging from network of handheld devices (like mobile phones or tablets) connected through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth within a single room to the millions of computers spread across the globe.
Some are connected wireless while others are connected through wires. Based on the geographical area covered and data transfer rate, computer networks are broadly categorized as:
- PAN ( Personal Area Network)
- LAN (Local Area Network)
- MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)
- WAN (Wide Area Network)
Personal Area Network (PAN)
It is a network formed by connecting a few personal devices like computers, laptops, mobile phones, smart phones, printers etc.
Devices lie within an approximate range of 10 meters. A personal area network may be wired or wireless. For example, a mobile phone connected to the laptop through USB forms a wired PAN while two smart phones communicating with each other through Bluetooth technology form a wireless PAN or WPAN.
Local Area Network (LAN)
It is a network that connects computers, mobile phones, tablet, mouse, printer, etc., placed at a limited distance.
The geographical area covered by a LAN can range from a single room, a floor, an office having one or more buildings in the same premise, laboratory, a school, college, or university campus.
The connectivity is done by means of wires, Ethernet cables, fiber optics, or Wi-Fi. LAN is comparatively secure as only authentic users in the network can access other computers or shared resources.
Users can print documents using a connected printer, upload/download documents and software to and from the local server.
Such LANs provide the short range communication with the high speed data transfer rates. These types of networks can be extended up to 1 km.
Data transfer in LAN is quite high, and usually varies from 10 Mbps (called Ethernet) to 1000 Mbps (called Gigabit Ethernet), where Mbps stands for Megabits per second.
Ethernet is a set of rules that decides how computers and other devices connect with each other through cables in a local area network or LAN.
Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)
Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) is an extended form of LAN which covers a larger geographical area like a city or a town. Data transfer rate in MAN also ranges in Mbps.
But it is considerably less as compared to LAN. Cable TV network or cable based broadband internet services are examples of MAN. This kind of network can be extended up to 30-40 km. Sometimes, many LANs are connected together to form MAN.
Wide Area Network (WAN)
Wide Area Network connects computers and other LANs and MANs, which are spread across different geographical locations of a country or in different countries or continents.
A WAN could be formed by connecting a LAN to other LANs via wired/wireless media. Large business, educational and government organizations connect their different branches in different locations across the world through WAN.
The Internet is the largest WAN that connects billions of computers, smart phones and millions of LANs from different continents.
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