Different Types of Computer Networks

This section will help you to understand the different types of computer networks.

Types of Computer Network

As we know, the computer network is a collection of two or more devices in order to share information and resources.  The size of the network may vary according to the need and the purpose.  Hence, the computer network is classified into the following categories according to their sizes and   geographical distances:

  • Personal Area Network (PAN)
  • Local Area Network (LAN)
  • Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)
  • Wide Area Network (WAN) types of computer network

Personal Area Network

  • PAN is a computer network that comprises of interconnected personal electronic devices through cables or wireless media.
  • Personal electronic devices include personal computers, workstations, smartphones, PDAs, etc.
  • These devices are centred around the vicinity of an individual person.
  • A personal area network covers a distance of a few meters.
  • This can be a wired or wireless network.
  • The wired PAN uses connecting cables like USB, Firewire, twisted pair cables, etc.
  • The wireless PAN employs wireless transmission methods like infrared, Bluetooth, or Wi-fi.

Local Area Network

  • LAN consists of a group of computers or other network devices like hubs or network switches that are confined within a building premise or a group of adjacent buildings.
  •  Computers and network devices are interconnected through a common communication link with a LAN.
  • LAN spans over a limited area such as office building, home, school, university, etc.
  • It is a privately own network.
  • Computers and peripheral devices are connected to share resources such as printers, storage space, files, etc.
  • LAN can be wired or wireless.
  • Wired LAN uses the transmission technologies: Ethernet( IEEE 802.3), Token ring (IEEE 802.5), etc.
  • Wireless LAN is defined in IEEE 802.11.

Metropolitan Area Network

  • MAN is a computer network interconnecting users and computer resources within a geographical span of metropolitan areas.
  • MAN may consist of a group of LANs.
  • It is bigger than LAN and smaller than WAN.
  • MAN uses the same technology used by LAN.
  • MAN can be a single network like a city cable TV network that spans over an entire city area.
  • Its area ranges from 5 to 50 km.

Wide area Network

    • A wide area network spans over a very large distance across multiple cities, countries, and even continents.
    • It interconnects two or more LANs or MANs.
    • The telephone lines, satellite links, and similar channels are used as a communication link.
    • Generally, communication links cannot be afforded by companies or organizations. It is hired by ISP or service providers.
    • WAN link has limited speed as compared to LAN or MAN.
    • Network infrastructure is quite complex and needs networking experts to manage and administer the network.
    • High-end network devices like routers, WAN switches, modems are used to establish the link.

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