In the domain of computer science, networking is a very important topic to be considered. Networks have extended the power of a computer beyond the expanse of a room. In this article, I am going to give you a brief explanation of what is a network, the 3 basic types of network – LAN, MAN and WAN and lastly, we will discuss the difference among these 3 types of networks. So, let’s start with what is a network!
What is a network?
In simple words, we can say that if two or more devices are connected together through a wired or wireless medium, then it will be called as a network. These devices may be computers, mobiles or any other smart devices. They can communicate with each other as well as work independently. Each device or computer connected to a network is called a Node. Different types of network are used to share data, information or resources among the devices. Normally networks are classified based on their size, capabilities and the geographical distance they cover. Different types of networks provide different services. Let’s discuss the types of networks.
Types of networks (LAN, MAN and WAN):
Basically, there are mainly 3 types of network. LAN, MAN and WAN. But, not these 3 types of networks only exist in networking. A large list of networks or types of networks is available in the concept of networking which includes – WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network), PAN (Personal Area Network), CAN (Campus Area Network), SAN (Storage Area Network). But these 3, I mean LAN, MAN and WAN are the most commonly used and the basic types of networks.
LAN (Local Area Network)
LAN or Local Area Network is one type of computer network which connects devices within a limited area. This is the smallest and simplest network. It allows the users to utilize or share resources and access corporate data stored inside a building or a campus. This network can be used within a house, building, school or within an office. The covering range of LAN is smaller than the other types of networks such as MAN or WAN. Its range is only 1 KM. So, the setup cost of a LAN network system is also low since the minimum hardware is required. The LAN network system is also very easy to design and troubleshoot. Mainly two topologies – BUS and RING are generally used in LAN.
The main standard used for connecting computers or devices over LAN is the Ethernet. The explanation of the Ethernet can be quite complex that we can see in the different websites or books. But I am trying to keep it fairly simple for you so that you can understand it easily. We can simply say that the Ethernet is the technology that allows us to connect multiple devices to form a LAN.
The CAT5 cable is the main component used to create the Ethernet LAN. At the end of each Ethernet cables, there is an RJ-45 plug with 8 separate wires inside lined in an exact order. But here one thing you should notice that the Ethernet cables and the standard telephone line cables are no the same ones. Because there is a big difference in between them. The ethernet cable has 8 wires whereas the telephone cable has only 4 wires.
The two other important devices that are used in creating a network is the router and the switch. The router usually connects two different LAN together and exchanges data packages between them. Whereas the switch expands the single LAN network with various devices such as other PCs, gaming console, smart TVs, servers and a bunch of other stuff.
MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)
MAN or metropolitan area network is similar to LAN but it can cover the entire city. The MAN can be formed by connecting multiple LANs which may belong to the various organisation. Simply, MAN or Metropolitan Area Network is the extended or bigger version of LAN but smaller than WAN. It can be used to connect multiple buildings within a city. The covering range of MAN is bigger than the LAN. The cable TV network which normally found in the city is a pure example of MAN network.
Suppose a company has 3 different branches in a city. So, sometimes it’s important to share resources, data, information across those branches. In such cases, if they use a network to connect all the branches together then this network will be called as MAN.
MAN uses high-speed connection using coaxial cables and microwave communication technology. MAN normally works on data link layer which is the second layer in the OSI reference model (Open system interconnection model). Its range is 100KM.
WAN (Wide Area Network)
As the name suggests, the WAN or Wide Area Network is generally used to connect a large or wide area. This network system is slightly complex in nature. It has the highest covering range among all the 3 types of networks. It connects computers together over a large physical distance. The straightforward example of WAN is the internet. It is the largest WAN that exists in today’s world. You can access the internet from anywhere in any country.
WAN uses routers to transfer the data and information quickly and securely. Its ranges are normally beyond 100 KM. WAN uses high-speed communication links like satellite communications, telephone lines and microwave links. WAN connects two or more LANs and other networks so that the computers at one location can communicate to computers at far away in some other locations. WAN provides a long distance transmission of data, voice, image, video information over a large geographical area that may comprise of a country or even a continent.
Difference between LAN, MAN and WAN:
Now, if you have already read the above content about LAN, MAN and WAN then you can clearly understand the difference between them. But if not, then I have clarified the important differences between LAN, MAN and WAN in a tubular form below and these are the major differences that can be seen in LAN, MAN and WAN.
|It is limited within a house, office or a school.||It is limited within a city.||It has a wide range such as a country or a continent.|
|Set up cost is low since less hardware is required.||Set up cost is higher than LAN.||It is the most expensive network to set up.|
|Bandwidth is low.||Bandwidth is higher than LAN.||It has the highest bandwidth among all the types of networks.|
|The range of LAN is very low (1 KM)||The range of MAN is higher than LAN but lower than WAN (100 KM)||WAN has the highest range (beyond 100 KM)|
|The Ethernet cable is used as the main communication medium.||Coaxial cables and microwave communication technologies are used||High-speed communication technologies like satellite, telephone lines are used.|