Types of Networks
Network category is determined by its size, ownership, the distance it cover and its physical architecture. The types of networks are local-area networks and wide- area networks. The category into which a network falls is determined by its size. A LAN normally covers an area less than 2 miles, a WAN can be worldwide. Networks of a size in between are normally referred to as metropolitan area networks and span tens of miles.
Local Area Network:
A Local Area Network (LAN) is usually privately owned and links the devices in a single office, building, or campus (see Figure 1.10). Depending on the needs of an organization and the type of technology used, a LAN can be as simple as two PCs and a printer in someone's home office; or it can extend throughout a company and include audio and video peripherals. Currently, LAN size is limited to a few kilometers.
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LANs are designed to allow resources to be shared between personal computers or workstations. The resources to be shared can include hardware (e.g., a printer), software (e.g., an application program), or data.
Wide Area Network:
A Wide Area Network (WAN) provides long-distance transmission of data, image, audio, and video information over large geographic areas that may comprise a country, a continent, or even the whole world. A WAN can be as complex as the backbones that connect the Internet or as simple as a dial-up line that connects a home computer to the Internet.
Metropolitan Area Network:
A Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) is a network with a size between a LAN and a WAN. It normally covers the area inside a town or a city. It is designed for customers who need a high-speed connectivity, normally to the Internet, and have endpoints spread over a city or part of city. A good example of a MAN is the part of the telephone company network that can provide a high-speed DSL line to the customer.
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