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Computer Networks, In-Depth Look At The Three Main Networks

There are three primary networks in computing, and these are the LAN, MAN, and WAN. You will know that each network type was described for those of you who have read our introductory article on computer networks.

However, we will be going in-depth in this article for those who already know a lot about the networks and want to add a little bit of knowledge to what they already know.

Table of Contents


LAN, which means local area network, is the type of network that connects personal computers in a small area to allow for sharing tools and data among the computers. LANs are usually connected by using twisted cables and coaxial cables.

LANs can cover only a small area, and they can be configured in a bus, ring, or star topology. In a LAN network, messages are sent to all the computers connected to the network host because they all share the same transmission cable. 

Broadcasting in LAN networks is done in two ways. The static way, in which a definite time slice is provided for the transmission of information, and the dynamic form, in which the host can send the information at any time. 


MAN means metropolitan area network, and it covers a larger area than that of LAN. MAN networks connect between two or more computers in the same city or even a different city. MAN can even serve as an internet service provider, and they are hard to maintain and design. There are two types of MAN networks, and they are DQDB and SMDS.  

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DQDB, which means Distributed Queue Dual Bus, is a dual bus configuration with each of the hosts in the network being linked to two backbone network lines.

SMDS, which means Switched Multimegabit Data Services, connects different LAN networks and then permits packets to transfer to other LANs on the SMDS. This is a high-speed MAN network that makes use of packet switching as a datagram service.   


WAN means vast area network, and they cover much bigger ground than a LAN or MAN. It could be a connection of a LAN network that is connected to other LAN networks through telephone lines or radio waves.

They could also be privately or publically owned. The communication network generally used by a WAN is either a PSTN or satellite link. WANs also tend to have more noise and errors due to the distance the transmissions have to travel. Propagation delay is also very high in WANs, and it is one of the biggest problems WAN users face.

WAN also uses switching that permits several computers to connect with several switches and not connecting directly with each other. WANs also use a store-and-forward concept where packets are stored in a buffer for short periods before they are forwarded to their destination on a predefined path. 

LAN vs. MAN vs. WAN

  1. The space covered by a LAN is small, while that of a WAN is much bigger, with a MAN covering space size between a LAN and WAN.
  2. LAN is generally used in places like schools and clinics, or buildings. MAN issued in connecting small towns and cities, while WAN can connect countries and continents
  3. LANs use wifi and Ethernet cables for transmission, and they transmit the data faster than both MAN and WAN.
  4. MANs make use of modem and wire or cable for transmission.
  5. WANs use optic wires and satellites for transmission   
  6. Maintenance and design of LAN are more accessible than that of both WAN and MAN.
  7. LAN also has a higher bandwidth in terms of transmission compared to WAN and MAN
  8. Errors involved with data transmission are less in LAN and more in both MAN and WAN.
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The networks mentioned above are all great in their roles. However, LAN networks offer several advantages over WAN and MAN networks. LANs have excellent reliability and a better data transmission rate than the other two. You can also connect several LANs to get a WAN.  

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