Computer Network | Types (LAN, WAN, MAN, PAN)

Updated: Jun 9

In this blog we will be discussing important types of Computer Networks.

A computer network can be categorized by their size.

Some of the most popular network types are:

  • LAN (Local Area Network)

  • WAN (Personal Area Network)

  • MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)

  • PAN (Personal Area Network)

What is LAN?

  • It is a group of computers connected to each other in a small area such as building, office, home, school.

  • Used for connecting devices through a communication medium such as twisted pairs, coaxial cable, etc.

  • Simplest type of LAN is to connect computers and a printer in someone's office or home.

  • It is a network which consists of less than 5000 interconnected devices across several buildings.

                    /           \
              (Computer)       (Computer)
                   \     LAN    /
                    \          /

Characteristics of LAN:

  • It is private network, so it is comparatively secure.

  • It operates at relatively higher speed.

  • There are various kinds of media access control methods like token ring and Ethernet.

Advantages of LAN:

  • You can use the same software over the network instead of purchasing the licensed software for each client in the network.

  • Data of all network users can be stored on a single hard disk of the server computer.

  • You can easily transfer data and messages over networked computers.

  • It will be easy to manage data at only one place, which makes data more secure.

  • It offers the facility to share a single internet connection among all the LAN users.

Disadvantages of LAN:

  • It will indeed save cost because of shared computer resources, but the initial cost of installing Local Area Networks is quite high.

  • The LAN admin can check personal data files of every LAN user, so it does not offer good privacy.

  • Unauthorized users can access critical data of an organization in case LAN admin is not able to secure centralized data repository.

  • Local Area Network requires a constant LAN administration as there are issues related to software setup and hardware failures

What is WAN?

A Wide Area Network is a network that extends over a large geographical area such as states or countries.

  • It is quite bigger network than the LAN.

  • It is not limited to a single location, but it spans over a large geographical area through a telephone line, fiber optic cable or satellite links.

                              /      \
                            (PC) LAN (PC)    
                              \        /
                             /          \
                            /    WAN     \
                           /              \
                         (PC)              (PC)
                        /     \           /     \
                     (PC) LAN (PC) --- (PC) LAN (PC)     
                        \      /         \      /
                          (PC)             (PC)          

Characteristics of WAN:

  • The software files will be shared among all the users therefore, all can access to the latest files.

  • Any organization can form its global integrated network using WAN.

Advantages of WAN:

  • WAN helps you to cover a larger geographical area. Therefore business offices situated at longer distances can easily communicate.

  • WLAN connections work using radio transmitters and receivers built into client devices.

Disadvantage of WAN:

  • The initial setup cost of investment is very high.

  • It is difficult to maintain the WAN network, skilled technicians and network administrators needed.

  • There are more errors and issues because of the wide coverage and the use of different technologies.

  • It requires more time to resolve issues because of the involvement of multiple wired and wireless technologies.

  • Offers lower security compared to other types of networks.

What is MAN?

A metropolitan area network is a network that covers a larger geographic area by interconnecting a different LAN to form a larger network.

  • Government agencies use MAN to connect to the citizens and private industries.

  • In MAN, various LAN's are connected to each other through a telephone exchange line.

  • The most widely used protocols in MAN are RS-232, Frame Relay, ATM, ISDN, OC-3, ADSL, etc.

  • It has a higher range than Local Area Network(LAN).

                            Core Network
             WLAN, LAN ---  Metro Network  --- 2G, 3G    
                           /     |     \
                          /      |      \
                        CATV    XDSL     ISDN

Characteristics of MAN:

  • It mostly covers towns and cities in a maximum 50 km range

  • Mostly used medium is optical fibers, cables

  • Data rates adequate for distributed computing applications.

Advantages of MAN:

  • It offers fast communication using high-speed carriers, like fiber optic cables.

  • It provides excellent support for an extensive size network and greater access to WAN's.

  • The dual bus in MAN network provides support to transmit data in both directions concurrently.

  • A MAN network mostly includes some areas of a city or an entire city.

Disadvantages of MAN:

Here are drawbacks/ cons of using the MAN network:

  • You need more cable to establish MAN connection from one place to another.

  • In MAN network it is tough to make the system secure from hackers

What is PAN?

It is a network arranged within an individual person, typically within a range of 10 meters.

  • Personal Area Network is used for connecting the computer devices of personal use is known as Personal Area Network.

  • Thomas Zimmerman was the first research scientist to bring the idea of the Personal Area Network.

  • Personal Area Network covers an area of 30 feet.

  • Personal computer devices that are used to develop the personal area network are the laptop, mobile phones, media player and play stations.

          Mobile phone   -- (PC) -- Printer

Characteristics of PAN:

  • It is mostly personal devices network equipped within a limited area.

  • Allows you to handle the interconnection of IT devices at the surrounding of a single user.

  • PAN includes mobile devices, tablet, and laptop.

  • It can be wireless connected to the internet called WPAN.

  • Appliances use for PAN: cordless mice, keyboards, and Bluetooth systems.

Advantages of PAN:

  • PAN networks are relatively secure and safe

  • It offers only short-range solution up to ten meters

  • Strictly restricted to a small area

Disadvantages of PAN:

  • It may establish a bad connection to other networks at the same radio bands.

  • Range is very limited.

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