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A Local Area Net Work

By: Jesse Miller

A local area net work is usually privately owned and links the devices in a single office, building, or campus. Depending on the needs of an organization and the type of technology used, a LAN can be as simple as two PCs and a printer in someone`s or it can extend throughout a company and include voice, sound, and video peripherals. Currently, LAN size is limited to a few kilometers.

LANs are designed to allow resources to be shared between personal computers or workstations. The resources are to be shared can include hardware (e.g., a printer), software (e.g., an application program), or data. A common example of a LAN, found in many business environments, links a work group of task-related computers. It is widely used in engineering workstations or accounting personal computers. One of the computers may be given a large-capacity disk drive and become a server to other clients. Software can be stored on this central server and used as needed by the whole group. The size of the LAN may be determined by licensing restrictions on the number of users per copy of software, or by restrictions on the number of users licensed to access the operating systems.

Local Area Network is distinguished from other types of networks by their transmission media and topology. A given LAN will use only one type of transmission media. The most common topologies are bus, ring, and star. LAN`s have data rates in the range of 4 to 16 Mbps. Speeds are increasing and can range 100 Mbps with gigabit systems in development.

A metropolitan area network is designed to extend over an entire city. It may be a single network such as a cable television network, or it may be a means of connecting a number of LANs into a larger network so that resources may be shared LAN to LAN as well as device to device. A company can use a MAN to connect the LANs in all of its offices throughout a city. A MAN may be wholly owned and operated by a private company, or it may be a service provided by a public company, such as a local telephone company. Many telephone companies provide a popular MAN service called Switched Multi megabit Data Services.

A wide area network provides long distance transmission of data, voice, image, and video information over large geographical areas that may compromise a country, a continent, or even the whole world.

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In contrast to LANs WANs may utilize public, leased, or private communication devices, usually in combinations, and can therefore span an unlimited number of miles.

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