LAN (Local Area Network)

LANs, WANs & MANs

LAN stands for (local area network). A LAN is a group of computers and devices that are in a specific location. The devices connect to the LAN with an Ethernet cable or through Wi-Fi.

LANs come in many sizes. A group of devices connected through a home internet connection is a LAN. Small businesses have LANs that connect a dozen or a hundred computers with printers and file storage.

Two Types of Local Area Networks

Client/Server LANs consist of several devices (the clients) connected to a central server. The server manages file storage, printer access, and network traffic. A client can be a personal computer, tablet, or other devices that run applications. The clients connect to the server either with cables or through a wireless connection.

WAN (Wide Area Network)

Peer-to-Peer LANs don’t have a central server and cannot handle heavy workloads like a client/server LAN can. On a peer-to-peer LAN, each personal computer and device share equally in running the network. The devices share resources and data through a wired or wireless connection to a router. Most home networks are peer-to-peer and sometimes small working areas or offices.

A wide area network (WAN) is a network that exists over a large-scale geographical area. A WAN connects different smaller networks, including local area networks (LANs) and metro area networks (MANs).

Typically, a router or other multi-function devices are used to connect a LAN to a WAN. Enterprise WANs allow users to share access to applications, services and other centrally located resources. This eliminates the need to install the same application server, firewall or other resource in multiple locations, for example.

Types of WAN connections

WAN connections can include wired and wireless technologies. Wired WAN services can include multiprotocol label switching, T1s, Carrier Ethernet and commercial broadband internet links. Wireless WAN technologies can include cellular data networks like 4G, as well as public Wi-Fi.

WANs over wired network connections remain the preferred medium for most enterprises, but wireless WAN technologies, based on the 4G LTE standard, are gaining traction.

WAN infrastructure may be privately owned or leased as a service from a third-party service provider, such as a telecommunications carrier, internet service provider, private IP network operator or cable company.

Metropolitan Area Network

A metropolitan area network (MAN) is similar to a local area network (LAN) but spans an entire city or campus. MANs are formed by connecting multiple LANs. Thus, MANs are larger than LANs but smaller than wide area networks (WAN).

MANs are extremely efficient and provide fast communication via high-speed carriers, such as fiber optic cables.

A MAN is ideal for many kinds of network users because it is a medium-size network. MANs are used to build networks with high data connection speeds for cities and towns.