Network types can be classified based on their size and geographical coverage. People who have a basic knowledge of networking are familiar with terms such as LAN and WAN. However, there are a few more network types that a lot of people are not familiar with. In this post, we will discuss different types of networks and their characteristics.
Personal Area Network (PAN) is a type of network used on a personal level. It is a small network used to connect devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. PANs connect to each other using wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, infrared, and near-field communication (NFC). They can also connect using a wired connection such as a USB cable. PANs are generally used for transferring small files such as music, photos, calendar appointments, and so on. PANs have a connectivity range of 10 meters or less.
Local Area Network (LAN) is a group of devices such as computers, servers, switches, and printers located in the same building, such as in an office or home. The most common type of LAN is an Ethernet LAN, where two or more computers are connected to Ethernet cables using a switch. Wireless LAN or WLAN is a local area network that uses wireless communication instead of wired communication. A wireless LAN will typically have a Wi-Fi router or a wireless access point to communicate. A wireless LAN is a LAN without using cables.
Campus Area Network (CAN) is a network that joins two or more LANs together within a limited area. A CAN could be a university that has multiple buildings in the same general area that are connected to each other to form a larger network. The buildings could be different departments on a University’s property with each building having their own LAN in their department. And then the buildings are connected to form a campus area network.
Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) is a network that spans over several buildings in a city or town. MANs are typically connected using a high-speed connection such as fiber optic cable. It gives the ability for sharing data and resources within a city.
Storage Area Network (SAN) is a special high-speed network that stores and provides access to large amounts of data. It’s a dedicated network used for data storage. This network consists of multiple disk arrays, switches, and servers. One of the main reasons for using a SAN is because SANs are not affected by network traffic such as bottlenecks that can happen in a local area network. SANs are partitioned off and are a network all by itself.
Wide Area Network (WAN) is the largest type of network. A WAN includes multiple LANs, CANs, and MANs. It’s a network that spans over a large geographical area such as a country, continent, or even the entire globe. A good example of a wide area network is the internet.
In conclusion, understanding different network types is beneficial in creating a network infrastructure that is most suitable for your needs. PANs have a connectivity range of 10 meters or less, and it is used for personal use. LAN, CAN, MAN, and SAN have a connectivity range of several meters to several kilometers. They are used for local or regional use. WAN has a connectivity range of several kilometers to several thousand kilometers. It is used for global use.