Computer networks are one of the most important technologies of the information and communication age. With them, it is possible to connect computers, mobile devices and other electronic devices in a single network, allowing the exchange of information, resources and services between them.
There are several types, each with its own characteristics, benefits and challenges. And in this article we are going to explore the different types of computer networks that exist, showing an overview of them, and then we will cover the most common types. Let’s go!
Types of computer networks
As we have just seen, computer networks are widely used around the world to connect devices and allow the exchange of information and resources. There are several types of computer networks, each with its own purpose and features. Among them we can mention:
A Local Area Network (LAN) is a computer network that spans a limited geographic area, such as an office, building, or college campus. They are commonly used to share resources and services between PC’s, such as printers, files and internet connection.
These networks are usually built with network cables such as Ethernet and can be connected through routers and switches. LANs offer high data transfer speeds and security, and allow for easy management and maintenance.
A Campus Area Network (CAN) is a computer network that interconnects multiple LANs in a larger geographic area, such as a university campus, military base, or business complex. It is designed to provide a high-speed, high-capacity network for sharing resources between LANs.
These networks often use technologies such as fiber optics or copper cables to connect different buildings and network segments, and are usually managed by a central IT team. CANs enable the rapid transfer of large volumes of data between multiple locations on a campus or complex, facilitating collaboration and resource sharing between organizations.
A MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) is a computer network that covers a larger geographic area than a LAN, such as a city or metropolitan region. They are designed to connect LANs in different geographic locations, allowing the exchange of information between different buildings, departments or organizations.
These networks can use a variety of transmission technologies, such as optical fiber, coaxial cable, or wireless, to connect the various devices. MANs offer high data transmission capacity and can be used to provide services such as voice, video and data to organizations in different locations.
A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a computer network that spans a large geographic area, usually an entire country or continent. They are made to interconnect different MANs, LANs or computer networks in distant geographic locations, allowing communication between different organizations in different locations.
These networks are often built using technologies such as telephone lines, satellites or undersea cables, and are managed by telecommunications companies or internet service providers.
A Radio Access Network (RAN) is a wireless communication network that allows mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to communicate with a cellular telephone network or a wireless wide area network (WAN) to access data services and voice.
This network is composed of base stations, which communicate with mobile devices, and a network infrastructure that connects base stations to the core network. RANs are used to provide on-the-go communication services to users on the move, such as drivers, pedestrians, and public transport passengers.
The most common wireless networking technology used in RANs is the 3G and 4G/LTE standard, and emerging technologies such as 5G are also being deployed.
A Personal Area Network (PAN) is a computer network that interconnects personal electronic devices in a limited physical space, such as a room or office. This network is designed to allow communication and exchange of information between devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, printers and other electronic devices.
PANs are built with wireless technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi that allow devices to communicate without the need for cables or physical connections. These networks are used to allow sharing of resources and services between personal devices, such as file sharing, printers, wireless keyboards and mice.
A SAN (Storage Area Network) is a high-speed computer network that enables the storage, retrieval, and management of data on large networked storage systems (NAS). They are designed to provide a high level of performance and reliability, and are used in enterprise environments that require large storage capacity and access to real-time data.
These networks are built with high-speed connection technologies, such as Fiber Channel or iSCSI, which allow storage systems to be shared across multiple servers and network devices.
SANs are common in data centers, cloud computing environments, and other businesses that need to manage large amounts of data.
A computer network VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) is a local area network that segments network traffic into logical groups based on roles, departments, or applications. This segmentation is done at the software level, allowing devices on different VLANs to communicate with each other as if they were on the same physical network, although they are physically separated.
They offer greater security, more efficient traffic management, and flexibility in managing network resources.
A wireless local area network (WLAN) computer network is a wireless local area network that allows devices to connect to the Internet or other devices in a given geographic area, such as an office or home, using radio frequency technologies to transmit the data.
This technology allows for greater mobility and flexibility for users, who can connect to the network without the need for wires or cables. WLAN networks are widely used in corporate and home environments, as well as in public spaces such as airports, cafes and shopping malls.
A Wireless Metropolitan Area Network (WMAN) computer network is a wireless network that spans a metropolitan area, such as a city. Unlike WLANs, which are concentrated in a smaller geographic area, WMANs have greater reach and are used to connect devices in large urban areas.
WMANs can be made up of many types of wireless technology, such as WiMAX and LTE, and are commonly used in surveillance systems, public transportation systems, and high-speed internet services.
A WWAN (Wireless Wide Area Network) computer network is a long-distance wireless network that allows devices to be connected over a large geographic area, such as a country or even the entire world, using mobile communication technologies such as 3G, 4G, 5G, GSM and CDMA.
WWANs are widely used in mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops to allow internet connection on the go or in areas where fixed connection is not available or is of low quality. They are commonly used in vehicle tracking systems, mobile payment systems and remote monitoring devices.
What is cable internet?
Cable Internet is a form of Internet connection that uses coaxial cable infrastructure to transmit data. These cables are generally used for transmitting cable TV signals, but they can also be used to provide high-speed Internet access.
The connection is established from an internet service provider that provides a modem that connects to the cable network. It is a technology that allows for a high-speed connection and stability, and is commonly used in residential and commercial environments.
What is WiFi?
Wireless network, also known as WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network), is a computer network that allows devices to connect to the internet or other devices without the need for wires or cables.
This connection is established through wireless communication technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, infrared, and others, which use radio waves or infrared to transmit data between devices.
Wireless networks are widely used in corporate and domestic environments, allowing greater mobility and flexibility for users, who can connect to the network from any location within the range of the signal.