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Generally, networks are distinguished based on their geographical span. A network can be as small as the distance between your mobile phone and its Bluetooth headphone and as large as the internet itself, covering the whole geographical world.

Personal Area Network

A Personal Area Network (PAN) is the smallest network that is very personal to a user. This may include Bluetooth-enabled devices or infrared-enabled devices. PAN has a connectivity range of up to 10 meters. PAN may include a wireless computer keyboard and mouse, Bluetooth-enabled headphones, wireless printers, and TV remotes.

For example, Piconet is a Bluetooth-enabled Personal Area Network that may contain up to 8 devices connected together in a master-slave fashion.

Local Area Network

LAN provides a useful way of sharing resources between end-users. Resources such as printers, file servers, scanners, and the internet are easily sharable among computers.

LANs are composed of inexpensive networking and routing equipment. It may contain local servers serving file storage and other locally shared applications. It mostly operates on private IP addresses and does not involve heavy routing. LAN works under its own local domain and is controlled centrally.
LAN uses either Ethernet or Token-ring technology. Ethernet is the most widely employed LAN technology and uses Star topology, while Token-ring is rarely seen.
LAN can be wired, wireless, or in both forms at once.

Metropolitan Area Network

The Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) generally expands throughout a city such as cable TV networks. It can be in the form of Ethernet, Token-ring, ATM, or Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI).
Metro Ethernet is a service that is provided by ISPs. This service enables its users to expand their Local Area Networks. For example, MAN can help an organization connect all of its offices in a city.

The backbone of MAN is high-capacity and high-speed fiber optics. MAN works in between Local Area Network and Wide Area Network. MAN provides uplink for LANs to WANs or the internet.

Wide Area Network

As the name suggests, the Wide Area Network (WAN) covers a wide area that may span across provinces and even a whole country. Generally, telecommunication networks are Wide Area networks. These networks provide connectivity to MANs and LANs. Since they are equipped with a very high-speed backbone, WANs use very expensive network equipment.

WAN may use advanced technologies such as Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Frame Relay, and Synchronous Optical Network (SONET). WAN may be managed by multiple administrations.


A network of networks is called an internetwork, or simply the internet. It is the largest network in existence on this planet. The internet hugely connects all WANs and it can have connections to LANs and Home networks. Internet uses TCP/IP protocol suite and uses IP as its addressing protocol. Present-day, the Internet is widely implemented using IPv4. Because of the shortage of address spaces, it is gradually migrating from IPv4 to IPv6.
The Internet enables its users to share and access an enormous amount of information worldwide. It uses WWW, FTP, email services, audio, and video streaming, etc. On a huge level, the internet works on the Client-Server model.
Internet uses a very high-speed backbone of fiber optics. To inter-connect various continents, fibers are laid undersea known to us as submarine communication cables.
Internet is widely deployed on World Wide Web services using HTML linked pages and is accessible by client software known as Web Browsers. When a user requests a page using some web browser located on some Web Server anywhere in the world, the Web Server responds with the proper HTML page. The communication delay is very low.
Internet is serving many purposes and is involved in many aspects of life. Some of them are: