The term network refers to a set of independent computer systems connected to each other, in such a way that they allow an exchange of data, for which it is necessary both the physical connection and the logical connection of the systems.
The latter is established through special network protocols, such as TCP (Transmission Control Protocol). Two computers connected to each other can already be considered a network.
The networks are configured with the objective of transmitting data from one system to another or to have resources in common, such as servers, databases or printers.
Depending on the size and scope of the computer network, a differentiation between different network dimensions can be established. Among the most important types of networks are:
- Personal Area Networks (PAN) or personal area network.
- Local Area Networks (LAN) or local area network.
- Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN) or metropolitan area network.
- Wide Area Networks (WAN) or wide area network.
- Global Area Networks (GAN) or global area network.
The physical connection on which these types of networks are based can be presented through cables or carried out with wireless technology. Often, physical networks form the basis for several logical communication networks, the so-called Virtual Private Networks (VPN) .
For data transmission, they use a common physical transmission medium such as optical fiber and are linked in a way Logic to different types of virtual networks through tunneling software.
Each of the different types of networks is designed for particular fields of application, they are based on their own techniques and standards and pose varied advantages and restrictions.
Most important types of networks:
Personal Area Network (PAN):
To carry out an exchange of data, modern terminals such as smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops allow you to associate ad hoc with a network.
This can be done by cable and take the form of a Personal Area Network (PAN) or personal area network, although the most common transmission techniques are the USB memory or the FireWire connector.
The Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN) variant is based on techniques such as Bluetooth, Wireless USB, Insteon, IrDA, ZigBee or Z-Wave. A wireless Personal Area Network that is carried out via Bluetooth is called Piconet.
The scope of action of the PAN and WPAN networks is normally limited to a few meters and, therefore, they are not suitable for establishing the connection with devices found in different rooms or buildings.
In addition to establishing communication between each of the devices with each other, the Personal Area Networks also allow connection to other larger networks. In this case you can talk about an uplink or a link or upload connection.
Due to the limited scope and a relatively low data transmission rate, PANs are mainly used to connect peripherals in the field of leisure and hobbies. Some typical examples are wireless headphones, game consoles and digital cameras.
Under the Internet of Things (IoT), WPAN networks are used for communication of control and monitoring applications with a low transfer frequency. In this regard, protocols such as Insteon, Z-Wave and ZigBee have been specially designed for home automation and home automation.
Local Area Network (LAN):
If a network consists of more than one computer, it is called the Local Area Network (LAN). A local network of such characteristics can cover two computers in a private home or several thousand devices in a company.
Likewise, networks in public institutions such as administrations, colleges or universities are also LAN networks. A very common grade for wired local area networks is Ethernet. Other less usual and somewhat obsolete options are ARCNET, FDDI and Token Ring network technologies.
Data transmission takes place either electronically through copper cables or through fiber optic glass.
If more than two computers are connected in a LAN network, other network components such as hubs, bridges and switches are needed, that is, hubs, network bridges and switches, which function as coupling elements and distribution nodes.
The type of network known as LAN or local area network was developed to enable the rapid transmission of larger amounts of data. Depending on the structure of the network and the transmission medium used, a performance of 10 to 1,000 Mbit / s can be mentioned.
Also, LAN networks allow a comfortable exchange of information between the various devices connected to the network. Therefore, in the business environment it is common for several work teams to access common file servers, network printers or applications through the LAN.
If the local network takes place wirelessly, in this case you can talk about a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) or wireless local area network and the basic fundamentals of the WLAN network standards are defined by the IEEE family of standards 802.11.
Wireless local networks offer the possibility of integrating terminals comfortably in a home or business network and are compatible with Ethernet LAN networks, although the performance is, in this case, somewhat lower than that of an Ethernet connection.
The scope of a Local Area Network depends on both the standard used and the transmission medium and increases through a signal amplifier that is called a repeater.
In the case of Gigabit Ethernet expansion through fiberglass, a signal range of several kilometers can be reached. It is not very common, however, that Local Area Networks consist of more than one structure.
The group of geographically close LAN networks can be associated with a higher Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN).
Metropolitan Area Network (MAN):
The Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) or metropolitan area network is a broadband telecommunications network that communicates several LAN networks in a geographically close area.
In general, these are each of the headquarters of a company that are grouped in a MAN through leased lines. To this end, high-performance routers based on fiberglass come into action, which allow a higher performance than the Internet and the transmission speed between two distant junction points is comparable to the communication that takes place in a LAN.
The operators that carry out international activities are responsible for making available the infrastructure of the MAN networks.
In this way, cities connected through Metropolitan Area Networks can count on a supra-regional level with Wide Area Networks (WAN) and internationally with Global Area Networks (GAN).
For a MAN network, the Metro Ethernet network is a special transmission technique with which MEN (Metro Ethernet Network) networks can be built on the basis of Carrier Ethernet (CE 1.0) or Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0).
The standard for larger regional wireless networks, that is, the so-called Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks (WMAN), was developed with IEEE 802.16.
This technology of WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) allows to create the so-called WLAN hotzones networks, which consist of several interconnected WLAN access points in different locations.
WMAN networks are used to offer users a powerful Internet connection in those regions that lack the infrastructure for this, and the DSL, the usual transmission standard, is only technically available where there are copper wires.
Wide Area Network (WAN):
While Metropolitan Area Networks networks communicate points that are close to each other in rural regions or in areas of urban agglomerations, Wide Area Networks (WAN) or wide area networks extend across geographical areas such as countries or continents.
The types of local networks or individual terminals that are part of a WAN is, in principle, unlimited.
While LAN and MAN networks can be established due to the geographical proximity of the computer or network that has to be connected based on Ethernet, in the case of Wide Area Networks techniques such as IP / MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) come into play ), PDH (Plesiochronous Digital Hierarchy), SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy), SONET (Synchronous Optical Network), ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) and, rarely, the obsolete X.25 standard.
In most cases, Wide Area Networks usually belong to a particular organization or company and are managed or rented privately. Internet service providers also make use of these types of networks to connect local corporate networks and consumers to the Internet.
Global Area Network (GAN):
A global network such as the Internet is called the Global Area Network (GAN), however it is not the only computer network of this nature. Companies that are also active internationally maintain isolated networks that comprise several WAN networks and thus achieve communication between companies’ computers worldwide.
GAN networks use the fiberglass infrastructure of Wide Area Networks and group them through international submarine cables or satellite transmission.
Virtual Private Network (VPN):
A virtual private network (VPN) is a virtual communication network that uses the infrastructure of a physical network to associate computer systems logically. In this sense, it is possible to deal with all types of networks described above.
The most common is to use the Internet as a means of transport, since this allows you to establish the connection between all computers worldwide and, contrary to what happens with private MAN or WAN networks, it is available for free.
Data transfer takes place within a virtual tunnel erected between a VPN client and a VPN server.
If the public network is used as a means of transport, Virtual Private Networks or virtual private networks are usually encrypted to guarantee the confidentiality of the data.
VPNs are used to connect LAN networks on the Internet or to enable remote access to a network or to a single computer through the public connection.
To know more about Types of Networks you can check here: Types of Networks: LAN, WAN, WLAN, MAN, SAN, PAN, EPN & VPN