Types of Computer Network

Types of computer network is the most common topic we use to deal with. Let us have an idea about what is computer network. We can define computer network as a collection of computing devices linked together in order to communicate and share their resources and data. This connection can be established through wired cables or via wireless media.

Network types can be defined on the basis of network size, their capabilities and the geographical regions they cover. We can classify the types of computer network on the basis of these essential factors. Computer Network can broadly be defined as: LAN, MAN, WAN

See also: Computer Networks Video tutorials

LAN (Local Area Network)


LAN is one of the simplest computer network. It covers a small geographical region in its network. Local area network can be established in an office building, schools, colleges, homes or in nearby buildings. LAN is very useful network of resource sharing like printers, scanners, data storage etc. A local area network can be wired or wireless. Typically wired LANs are used for more speed and security. If a LAN is entirely wireless it’s called WLAN. The minimum devices can be connected in a local area network is 2 and it can be maximized up to 16 million. A LAN can be composed of inexpensive routing and networking devices. The speed of a LAN ranges from 10mbps to 100mbps. Different network topologies are used in LAN creation. ARCNET and Ethernet are the examples of local area networks.

MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)


MAN is relatively new computer network. It covers more geographical area in comparison of LAN. A Metropolitan Area Network is extended over a city and uses the similar technology as local area network. Its geographical area rarely extend 100kilometers. This computer network includes different hardware and transmission media. It can be combination of different LANs into a large network for resource sharing or can be a single network like cable TV network. Metropolitan area network is based on IEEE 802.6 standard known as DQDB (Distributed Queue Dual Bus). Security and standardization are two most important things in a MAN. Security is required for information sharing between dissimilar devices and Standardization is required for ensuring reliable data communication.

WAN (Wide Area Network)


WAN is the most complicated computer network. It allows the computing devices to communicate together over a large geographical region even when they are quite far. The Internet is the most common example of wide area network that connects the computers from all over the world. This type of computer network uses routers to transmit data securely and quickly. LANs are connected to WAN via routers that maintains IP addresses. Wide area networks are more complex and owned and managed by collective or distributed ownership and management. Frame Relay, ATM, X.25 are technologies used by WANs for long distant connectivity.

Apart from above all main computer networks, several other popular computer networks are there:

WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network)


It is the most popular type of computer network known as Wi-Fi. WLAN provide wireless network communication over short distant region using radio or infrared signals instead of traditional network cabling. It allows mobile devices to connect with LAN through Wi-Fi. By attaching a device called AP (Access Point) a WLAN can be prepared. WEP technology is used for raising the level of security in wireless local area network.

PAN (Personal Area Network)

PAN is a type of computer network that revolves around an individual or personal area. It covers an area within 10 meters. This kind of computer network includes mobile computers. This type of network can be wired or wireless.

CAN (Campus Area Network)


CAN is a computer network that covers a small personal region. This type of computer network is suitable for universities, corporate offices etc. where a few LANs are combined together within their personal area.

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