What are they, what are they for and what types of computer networks exist?

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Craig Zacker
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In this article we will explain what are computer networks and what are they for. Then we will show you how to categorize these networks.

What are computer networks

Also called computer networks, are the interconnection of an indeterminate number of devices through a physical medium. The way they work doesn't differ much from any other communication process.

In its most basic form there is a sender, a recipient, a message, a means by which the message is transmitted and a series of codes or protocols that are used to understand it.

The big difference is that both the sender and the recipient are computers and the whole process is done digitally. Although we are not aware of it, computer networks are present in almost every aspect of our life. Finally, it is very important not to confuse network types with the main network services that currently exist.

What are computer networks for?

These connections are used for share information between many devices. In practice, when many computers are networked, communication is created between all of them without using secondary devices, such as pendrives.

What types of computer networks exist

Computer networks can be classified according to many variations, such as their connection, topology, degree of diffusion, among others. However, in this article we will focus on one of the most used classifications: in based on its scope or coverage.

Personal Area Network (PAN) – Personal Area Network

These connections have a very limited range and a low data rate. They are used to communicate devices that are separated by few meters. Because of this, they are unable to connect equipment located in different rooms or buildings. It has a wireless variant called Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN).

Due to their characteristics, the main use of PAN and WPAN networks is focused on the home and everyday environment. For example, when we connect wireless speakers to a computer or a SmartWatch to a mobile phone, we are in the presence of a WPAN network. In this other article we will show you how to create a WPAN network.

Local area network (LAN) - Local area network

LAN networks allow interconnection between 2 or more computers. Depending on the capabilities of the components that make up the connection, the LAN networks can have a range of several kilometers, with throughput up to 1.000 Mbit / s. Therefore, it is very common to find these connections in homes, public institutions, small businesses and educational institutions.

A wireless local area network (WLAN) is a wireless LAN. These allow the integration of many devices in a convenient and orderly way. An everyday example is found in offices, where this network is used to connect many computers together and easily transfer files from one computer to another without using an external drive. If you want to know more about the local network, we recommend that you click here.

Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) – Metropolitan Area Network

A MAN network interconnects multiple LANs in one area geographic nearby. In general, the operating companies are those that have the necessary infrastructure to achieve the interconnection.

On the other hand, distance can be a problem for the speed of the connection. For this reason, fiberglass cables are often used to maximize data transfer efficiency. If you want to know more about the functioning of the metropolitan area network, click here.

On the other hand, its wireless variant, Wireless Metropolitan Area Network (WMAN), is widely used to provide one stable and efficient Internet connection to populations who do not have the necessary infrastructure.

Wide Area Network (WAN) - A WAN network

WANs have a much broader scope, as they cover the territory of many countries or continents. For this reason, in principle, the number of local area networks (LANs) that can be interconnected in a WAN is unlimited.

Due to their size, WANs generally belong to a specific company or organization that offers its infrastructure to other companies. These, in turn, play the role of Internet provider (such as Vodafone) which they offer connection to businesses and homes.

Global Area Network (GAN) – Global Area Network

It's about the global network of networks, that is Internet itself. However, this is not an individual connection, as even companies with a presence in many countries have their own server network.

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