Upgrading and Repairing PCs Tip #18: Types of Networks
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Several types of networks exist, from small two-station arrangements, to networks that interconnect offices in many cities:
- Personal area network (PAN)—A network created by connections between smartphones, PDAs, and similar computing devices. Most of these connections use Bluetooth networking, so they could more properly be referred to as wireless PANs (WPANs). Because no single device is controlling or managing the network, PANs and WPANs are examples of ad-hoc networks. The newest example of PAN is Near Field Communication (NFC), which many smartphones use. NFC-enabled smartphones can transfer data by touching the phones together, and some also use NFC to simplify the process of setting up a Bluetooth PAN.
- Local area networks—The smallest office network is referred to as a local area network (LAN). A LAN is formed from computers and components in a single office or building. LANs built from the same components as are used in office networks are also common at home.
- Metropolitan (or municipal) area network (MAN)—Connects two or more locations in the same city using wide area network (WAN) technologies.
- Wide area networks—LANs in different locations can be connected by high-speed fiber-optic, satellite, or leased phone lines to form a wide area network (WAN).
- Wireless wide area networks (WWANs)—Use various cellular phone technologies for connections. These are typically 3G and 4G networks.
- The Internet—The World Wide Web is the most visible part of the world’s largest network, the Internet. The Internet is really a network of networks, all of which are connected to each other through Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). It’s a glorified WAN in many respects. Programs such as web browsers, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) clients, and email clients are some of the most common ways users work with the Internet.
- Intranets—Intranets use the same web browsers and other software and the same TCP/IP protocol as the public Internet, but intranets exist as a portion of a company’s private network. Typically, intranets comprise one or more LANs that are connected to other company networks, but, unlike the Internet, the content is restricted to authorized company users only. Essentially, an intranet is a private Internet.
- Extranets—Intranets that share a portion of their content with customers, suppliers, or other businesses, but not with the general public, are called extranets. As with intranets, the same web browsers and other software are used to access the content.