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Computing Academy GCSE Computer Science

Network Classification

Network Classification Local Area Network (LAN) A LAN is a collection of computer systems (and peripherals such as printers) connected together. A LAN will link computer systems within a building and even across several buildings on the same site (within the same geographical region), for example, the computer systems within a university campus (that has several buildings) will be connected together using a LAN. The organisation, in this case the university, is responsible for installing and managing the network and the network infrastructure (including all of the cabling). Wide Area Network (WAN) While a LAN is a collection of computer systems connected together on a single site, a wide area network (WAN) is a collection of computer systems connected using additional, 101

ented infrastructure, usually spread across a wide geographical area. If a business wanted to connect their LAN in Manchester to their LAN in London they would need to rent cable infrastructure from telecoms companies between the two sites as they are not able to install their own cable running the length of the country! Networks connected using infrastructure rented from a third party are known as Wide Area Networks (WAN). Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) A MAN is a large computer network that spans a campus (such as a large university) or even a metropolitan area (such as a town or city). In terms of geographical scope, a MAN will be larger than a LAN, but smaller than a WAN. A MAN may be owned and operated by a single organisation, but will usually be owned by more than one organisation and use the telecoms network infrastructure. Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN) Short range wireless networks are a relatively new technology but are incredibly useful. Using a mobile device to create a personal hotspot that then allows other computer systems to take advantage of the devices’ Internet connectivity is one example of a WPAN. Sending documents to print, or connecting a smartphone to a car stereo system via bluetooth are also examples of WPANs. Virtual Private Network (VPN) Installing network infrastructure can be extremely costly, especially when a WAN is required for communication between geographically remote sites. VPNs offer an alternative. Rather than connecting to a private LAN or private WAN, computer systems simply connect to the Internet. Special software than creates a tunnel between authorised computer systems (via the Internet) creating a simulated or virtual network. 102

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