Difference Between LAN, MAN, & WAN


Networking plays a significant role in our day to day lives. Whether it comes to connecting computers or devices or using internet, a strong and expansive networking system is required to meet the communication needs. With the help of a networking system, one computer can be connected to another computer through any medium. Mainly, there are three types of network systems, including LAN, MAN, and WAN. They are designed to control and operate over the area they cover. The most common type of difference is the geographical area they all cover.

LAN is used to cover the small areas, whereas MAN can be used to cover an area larger than LAN, and WAN can be used to cover the largest of all. In addition to this, there are other types of computer networks, including Personal Area Network, Enterprise Private Network, Virtual Private Network, and Storage Area Network. Coming back to LAN, MAN, and WAN, let’s discuss them in details:

Local Area Network

The abbreviation of LAN is Local Area Network. It can be used to connect network devices in a way that personal computers, as well as workstations, can share data, programs, and tools. A switch can connect together a number of computers and devices, or stack of switches, using a private addressing scheme as defined by the TCP/IP protocol. In general, private addresses are different in relation to other devices on the local network. Routers can be used to connect LAN to the larger WAN.

Data can be easily transmitted at fast rates as limited computers are linked. The connection should be high speed and cost-effective hardware, such as network adapters, hubs, and Ethernet cables. Local Area Networks generally cover a smaller geographical area and are privately owned. They are specifically used in office buildings, homes, schools, hospitals, and more. They can be installed and maintained without much hassle.

Metropolitan Area Network

The abbreviation of MAN is metropolitan area network. It can be used to cover a larger area than a Local Area Network and smaller area than Wide Area Network. MAN usually connects two or more computers that are apart but located in the same or different cities. It includes a large geographical area that may serve as an Internet Service Provider. Metropolitan Area Network or MAN is designed for customers who need high-speed connectivity. The speed usually ranges in terms of Mbps. As compared to LAN, it is tough to design and maintain a Metro Area Network. In addition to this, MAN is quite expensive and may or may not be owned by a single organization. The data transfer rate and the propagation delay of MAN are reasonable. Some of the examples of metropolitan area network are the part of a telephone company network that offers a high-speed DSL line to the customer or the cable TV network in a city.

Wide Area Network

The abbreviation of WAN is Wide Area Network. This computer network includes a large geographical area. It can be limited within the bounds of a state or country. A WAN can be a connection of LAN connecting to other LAN’s through LAN’s via telephone lines and radio waves. In addition to this, it may be limited to an enterprise or accessible to the public. It is very high speed and relatively costly technology. Some of the examples of Wide Area Network are the asynchronous transfer mode network, and Point-to-Point WAN is dial-up that connects a home computer to the Internet.


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