Types of Networks

There are several different types of a computer network such as local area network, Metropolitan area network and wide area network. We can characterize network with following:-

  • Size of the area covered

  • Number of users connected
  • Number and types of services available
  • Area of responsibility

Following are the different network types

Local Area Network (LAN) 

A network infrastructure that provides access to users and end devices in a small geographical area such as a home network, or small business networks and a network in the same building. Following are the key points for LANs:-


  • A limited geographic area such as home, office, and building.
  • Allow multi-access to high bandwidth media.
  • Full-time connectivity to local users.
  • Control the network under local administration privately. 
  • Connected physically to adjacent devices.

LAN Devices

Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) 

A network infrastructure that spans a physical area larger than a LAN but smaller than a WAN (e.g., a city). MANs are typically operated by a single entity such as a large organization.

A metropolitan area network (MAN) is a hybrid between a LAN and a WAN. Like a WAN, it connects two or more LANs in the same geographic area. A MAN, such as, might connect two different buildings or offices in the same city. However, whereas WANs typically provide low to medium-speed access, MANs provide high-speed connections, such as T1 (1.544Mbps) and optical services.

The optical services also provided  SONET (the Synchronous Optical Network standard) and SDH (the Synchronous Digital Hierarchy standard). With these services, carriers can provide high-speed services, including ATM and Gigabit Ethernet.  Devices used to provide connections for MANs include high-end routers, ATM switches, and optical switches


Typical MAN


 Wide Area Network (WAN) 

A network infrastructure that provides access to other networks over a wide geographical area, which is typically owned and managed by a telecommunications service provider. 

Any network whose communications links cross metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries called WAN. This is in contrast with personal area networks (PANs), local area networks (LANs), campus area networks (CANs), or metropolitan area networks (MANs) which are usually limited to its area of responsibility.

Computers connected to a wide-area network often connected through public networks, such as the telephone system. They can also be connected through leased lines or satellites. 

WAN give access through a serial interface which is generally slow. Its provide full-time and part-time connectivity.WAN users 

wide area networks devices

WAN Devices


Wireless LAN(WLAN) 

Similar to a LAN but wirelessly interconnects users and endpoints in a small geographical area.  


Storage Area Network (SAN) 

A network infrastructure designed to support file servers and furthermore its provide data storage, retrieval, and replication.


Personal Area Network (PAN)

A personal Area Network (PAN) is a computer network for communication between computer devices, including telephones and personal digital assistants, in proximity to an individual’s body. The devices may or may not belong to the person in question. The reach of a PAN is typically a few meters. 

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