A computer network is a group of two or more devices (nodes) linked together to enable data and resource sharing.

Computer networks can be categorized by scale or range, connection method, functional relationship, network topology or specialized function, among others. We will focus on the most commonly used classification: by scale or physical size.

PAN (Personal Area Network)

    • Purpose

PAN networks link devices such as smartphones, tablets, PDAs, printers, laptops or desktops, by cable, for data transmission within the range of an individual person.

    • Scope

These networks are usually designed for personal use and therefore formed by devices that are in a local environment and close to the user

    • Coverage

    • Usually limited to a room or a few meters (less than 10). These networks are usually designed for personal use.
    • Data transmission

Data can be transmitted via cable, USB memories or FireWire connectors.

    • Speed

10 bps-10Mbps.

    • Is there a wireless version?

Yes, thanks to Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth or infrared rays its wireless version can reach up to 10 meters

LAN (Local Area Network)

    • Purpose

LAN networks refer to the interconnection of information technology devices such as laptops, PDAs, printers, storage units or servers.

    • Scope

LANs associate devices within limited areas such as: two or more devices in a house, residences, school or university campuses or office buildings. element_id=”151360489027747″]

    • Coverage

    • The reach of a LAN varies from  10m to 4km
    • Data transmission

Although most LANs use Ethernet or Wi-Fi, they can also be setup electronically through copper wires or glass fiber-optic.

    • Speed

100-1000 Mbps.

    • Is there a wireless version?

Yes, known as WLAN network (Wireless Local Area Network) the nodes are connected through Wi-Fi technology or Bluetooth and can reach a distance of up to 20 km. 

MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)

    • Purpose

MAN networks are similar but larger than LAN networks (in fact MANs connect LANs to one another at high speed).
These networks are usually designed for towns and cities.

    • Scope

MANs are used primarily in cities. Sometimes they are built for one particular organization and are private.

    • Coverage

    • Areas between 10km and 50 km in diameter.
    • Data transmission

The computers connected to MANs are often connected through optic cables or other digital media.

    • Speed

These networks provide fast communications: 10 Mbps- 10 Gbps (fiber- optic).

    • Is there a wireless version?

Yes, the so-called WMAN (Wireless Metropolitan Area Network). These networks can reach up to 48km.

WAN (Wide Area Network)

    • Purpose

A WAN network is an unlimited set of LAN and MAN networks connected to each other.

    • Scope

A WAN network can be used over a state, province or country. WAN networks are extensive enough to interconnect countries and continents. Business, education and government entities use this type of network. The Internet is the biggest example of a Wide Area Network.

    • Coverage

    • The nodes can be separated by distances that cover whole countries or continents (on average, these networks cover areas between 100km and 1000km)
    • Data transmission

Many technologies are available for these networks, some examples are fiber optic cables, radio wave transmissions or satellite.

    • Speed

WANs are slower than LAN networks but they can transport more data (1Mbps-1Gbs).

    • Is there a wireless version?

Yes, they are known as WWAN (Wi-Fi, satellite networks or 4G LTE) Connections can cover distances greater than 40 km.

GAN (Global Area Network)

    • Purpose

GAN networks are composed of different interconnected WAN networks, the best example of this type of network is the global positioning system (GPS).

    • Scope

They connect the offices of a company located in different countries.

    • Coverage

    • Covers unlimited geographical areas.
    • Data transmission

By international submarine cables or by satellite transmission.

    • Speed

1.5 Mbps – 100 Gbps.

    • Is there a wireless version?

Yes, mobile GAN networks.