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Computer Networking - What Exactly Is It?

Sep 12, 2008
What exactly is a computer network? Well it's were you are connected to several computers at once. There are several different kinds of computer networks out there, such as Local area network or LAN, Personal area network or PAN, Campus Area Network or CAN, Metropolitan are network or MAN, and a Wide area network or WAN. You can see there are several types of networks that are available in several different areas of the world.

They have different capabilities depending on what type of networking system they are. The PAN, which as the name states is a personal network, meaning it's used by one person. It's when you have a computer, scanner, fax, phone, etc, hooked up to your computer at home. The range of a PAN is quit small usually ranging in distances of 6 to 8 feet.

A LAN is usually in reference to a network that covers a small location or a house. Most LANs use Ethernet as the connection. A LAN and WAN are close in what they do, but a LAN can be distinguished by the higher level of data transfer rates.

Next is the CAN, Campus area network, as it name applies is a network connection of two or more LANs on a college or other campus, military bases, or other industrial complex. A CAN may actually be considered a MAN, but is most of the time in a much smaller area than a MAN.

A MAN or Metropolitan area network is where two or more LANs or even CANs are connected together. A MAN however will not go beyond the boundaries of the local city or town.

A WAN which remember is a Wide area network, it covers a broader geographic area than a city, and perhaps two or more counties would be connected this way.

Another network that we failed to list earlier is a Global area network or GAN, this is actually something that is being worked on by several different groups at present and has yet to be fully defined. What the basic idea of a GAN is, it will support mobile communication across LANs, such as wireless coverage or even satellite coverage.

Networks are an amazing thing that if you think about it really haven't been around for a long amount of time. At least not with the tremendous abilities that are now available to people who have computers in the World. It wasn't long ago when the only way to get on the internet was by dial-up services. Can you remember how slow that was? Wow a friend of mine is still using dial-up and I make sure to tease him every chance I get about it. Someday he'll finally change it. Granted when cable connections and DSL both came out they were a bit pricy, but now it's really cheaper to pay a bit of money and get a fast connection. It's a lot less frustrating now that LANs and all these other networks are around!
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