We use many different network types to connect devices in the same room and across the world. In this video, you’ll learn about LANs, WANs, PANs, MANs, and WMNs.
Is your network connecting to devices that are in the same room as you? Or are they connecting across the country or across the world? In this video, we’ll look at the many different network types.
If you’re connecting devices together in your immediate geography, then you’re probably using a Local Area Network, or a LAN. A LAN is usually connecting devices in the same room or perhaps on the same campus. There may be a number of different buildings that are close by. And you’re able to connect them over higher-speed ethernet connectivity. This gigabit and even 802.11 wireless connectivity could be considered a Local Area Network.
Once you go to slower speeds than this, you’re probably not connecting to anywhere that’s in your local area. For example, if you’re connecting to another city or another country, then you’re probably using a Wide Area Network, or a WAN. This is connecting one Local Area Network at one location to another Local Area Network that is somewhere very far away, geographically speaking.
There are many different ways to connect over a Wide Area Network. You could be using point-to-point serial connections, or MPLS connections. It’s common to have those type of connections be a fiber or a copper that’s in the ground and going from your location in the ground to another location somewhere else.
This could, of course, be using non-terrestrial communication. It’s common to have wide area connections using satellites, where you send all of your data to a satellite. And it communicates back down to a ground station and then reverses that process to get back to you.
If you’re using a network that is in your immediate area then it’s probably a PAN, or a Personal Area Network. If you’re using Bluetooth or infrared connectivity, or you’re paying for something with your mobile phone using a Near Field Communication– or NFC– connection, you can consider all of those Personal Area Networks.
For example, if you get into your car and connect your phone to your car over a Bluetooth connection, that is certainly a very popular Personal Area Network. We often have these wireless headsets that we put in our ear. That’s also using Bluetooth. So that would be considered a Personal Area Network. And if you’re working out on a treadmill or an elliptical and sending that telemetry back to your mobile device, that’s also using a Personal Area Network.
We mentioned earlier that you can have a Local Area Network that is in your campus. You can also have a Wide Area Network, where you are communicating to another city or another country. But there’s also a middle point where you’re communicating within the same metropolitan area. We call these MANs, or Metropolitan Area Networks. These are usually managed by one central network provider that’s in your area, which makes it very easy for them to connect up one remote site to another remote site that may be on the other side of the city.
There used to be many different ways to set up connectivity over a Metropolitan Area Network. But these days, your local network provider is going to hand off an ethernet connection. And you’re simply going to plug into an ethernet port on your local equipment. It’s also common to see Metropolitan Area Networks run by a local government. Since these local governments already own the right of way, it becomes relatively easy for them to put conduit in the ground and put fiber between different locations within a single metropolitan area.
One relatively new type of networking, especially networking in our home, is a WMN, or a Wireless Mesh Network. These are usually associated with the Internet of Things. You can think of having all of these different devices inside of your home, being able to create an entire cloud of devices communicating and hopping between each other to complete the entire network.
There can be many different devices, all able to self-form together to create these wireless mesh networks. So you may have installed the latest garage door opener, front door lock, and lights in your home. And all of these wireless devices can now form a Wireless Mesh Network. Because all of these devices are communicating to multiple devices in your network, they’re also able to self-heal. So if one of your devices happens to go offline, there’s still many other ways that it can use to communicate to all the other devices in your network.
You’ll find a few different types of WMN networks in your home. There’s certainly 802.11, which has many new technologies coming out for mesh networking. There’s also Zigbee and Z-Wave networking technologies. So depending on the type of Internet of Things devices you’re using, you may be using one or more of these devices to provide this mesh network.