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A WAN, a LAN, a MAN, a CAN, Panama?

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We can classify a computer network into different types depending on its size and the geographical area it covers. The most common types of computer networks are LAN, MAN, WAN, PAN, etc.

What is a Local Area Network (LAN)?

LAN is a form of a computer network most known to the general public. It has a limited reach, roughly a bunch of closely situated houses or building. And that's because we typically use the Ethernet technology (IEEE 802.3) to power our local area networks. The ethernet cables we lay across our houses and offices have their practical limitations. Beyond a certain length, the speed gets degraded. The reach of a LAN can be enhanced using repeaters, bridges, etc.

Home Area Network (HAN)

A kind of local area network is the HAN (Home Area Network). All the devices like smartphones, computers, IoT devices, televisions, gaming consoles, etc. connect to a central router (wired or wireless) placed in a home constitute a home area network.

What is a Wireless LAN (WLAN)?

This type of computer network is a wireless counterpart of the local area network. It uses the WiFi technology defined as per the IEEE 802.11 standards. If you're the one who thinks WiFi and WLAN are the same things, then you need to rectify your confusion. They are completely different. WiFi is used to create a wireless local area network.

WiFi networks can reach up to a few hundred meters in a clear line of sight. However, just like wired LAN, its range can be increased using wireless repeaters and bridges.

What is a Personal Area Network (PAN)?‚Äč

As the name suggests, a personal area network is intended for personal use within a range of a few ten meters. Mainly, the technologies used for creating personal area networks are wireless. A notable example of WPAN is the Bluetooth technology, mostly found on portable devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, wearables, etc. Other PAN technologies are Zigbee, Wireless USB, etc.

What is a Campus Area Network (CAN)?

A network infrastructure covering the school, university, or a corporate premises can be dubbed as campus area network. It can comprise of several LANs, a central firewall, and connected to the internet using a leased line or any other means.

What is a Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)?

The area covered by a MAN is quite larger in comparison to a LAN and CAN. In fact, a MAN can be used to link several LANs spread across a city or a metro area. A wired backhaul spread across a city is used to powers a metropolitan area network in that place. You might have known about various city-wide WiFi networks in different parts of the world.

What is a Wide Area Network (WAN)?

We can think of a WAN as the superset of all the small networks we find in our homes, offices, cities, states, and countries. The router or modem placed at your home is a device used to connect to the WAN. The internet is also a type WAN that spans across the entire earth.

Various technologies like ADSL, 4G LTE, Fiber optic, cable, etc. are used to connect to the internet. However, these technologies mostly confine to a country at max. Cables are laid across countries and continents to establish global connectivity.

What is a Storage Area Network (SAN)?

Generally, it is used to connect external storage devices to servers but make them believe that the storage is attached directly. The technology used to accomplish this is known as Fiber Channel.