What is Network Types? What is LAN, MAN and WAN?


1 Network Types:

Computer network is broadly classified into three types—

(1) Local Area Network (LAN),

(2) Metropolitan Area Network (MAN), and

(3) Wide Area Network (WAN).


The different network types are distinguished from each other based on the following characteristics:

  • Size of the network
  • Transmission Technology
  • Networking Topology

The size of the network refers to the area over which the network is spread. Transmission technology refers to the transmission media used to connect computers on the network and the transmission protocols used for connecting. Network topology refers to the arrangement of computers on the network or the shape of the network. The following subsections discuss the three types of networks and their characteristics.


1.1 Local Area Network LAN (Figure 9.19)

Local Area Network LAN
Local Area Network LAN

is a computer network widely used for local communication. LAN connects computers in a small area like a room, building, office or a campus spread up to a few kilometers. They are privately owned networks, with a purpose to share resources and to exchange information. Figure 9.19 LAN The computers in a LAN are generally connected using cables. LAN is different from other types of network since they share the network. The different computers connected to a LAN take turns to send data packets over the cables connecting them. This requires coordination of the use of the network. Some of the transmission protocols used in LAN are Ethernet, Token bus, and FDDI ring. Star, Bus, and Ring are some of the common LAN networking topologies. LAN runs at a speed of 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps and has low delays. A LAN based on Wi-Fi wireless network technology is called Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN).


1.2 Metropolitan Area Network MAN (Figure 9.20)

Metropolitan Area Network MAN
Metropolitan Area Network MAN

is a computer network spread over a city. Cable television network is an example of MAN. The computers in a MAN are connected using coaxial cables or fiber optic cables. MAN also connects several LAN spread over a city. Figure 9.20 MAN Wide Area Network WAN

is a network that connects computers over long distances like cities, countries, continents, or worldwide (Figure 9.21). WAN uses public, leased, or private communication links to spread over long distances. WAN uses telephone lines, satellite link, and radio link to connect. The need to be able to connect any number of computers at any number of sites, results in WAN technologies to be different from the LAN technologies. WAN network must be able to grow itself. Internet is a common example of WAN. (Figure 9.21 )

9.6.2 LAN Topologies There are different types of network topologies that are used in a network. The network topologies in the structure or the layout of the different devices and computers connected to the network. The topologies commonly used in LAN are—Bus topology, Star topology, and Ring topology.


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