Saturday, April 2, 2011

What is the difference between a LAN, a MAN, and a WAN, and what is a LAN connection?

A LAN (local area network) is a group of computers and network devices connected together, usually within the same building. By definition, the connections must be high speed and relatively inexpensive (e.g., token ring or Ethernet). Most Indiana University Bloomington departments are on LANs. For more information on LANs, see What is a LAN (local area network)?
A MAN (metropolitan area network) is a larger network that usually spans several buildings in the same city or town. The IUB network is an example of a MAN.
A WAN (wide area network), in comparison to a MAN, is not restricted to a geographical location, although it might be confined within the bounds of a state or country. A WAN connects several LANs, and may be limited to an enterprise (a corporation or an organization) or accessible to the public. The technology is high speed and relatively expensive. The Internet is an example of a worldwide public WAN.
A LAN connection is a high-speed connection to a LAN. On the IUB campus, most connections are either Ethernet (10Mbps) or Fast Ethernet (100Mbps), and a few locations have Gigabit Ethernet (1000Mbps) connections.

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