Different Types of Networks and the Topology

The different types of networks consist of various combinations of computers, storage devices, and communications devices, may be divided into several main categories, differing primarily in their geographic range and purposes.

We’ve put together different types of networks and the topology provided some guidance about learning the most common network topologies and terminologies ad understanding how to choose between different types of network connections.

Networks are commonly grouped based on purposes and sizes. It important have a better understanding of network classification or the different types of networks which include Personal Area Network, Home Area Network ,Wide Area Network, Metropolitan Area Network, Local Area Network and Home Automation Network.

The Different Types of Network

Some of the different types of networks consist of the following:

  • Local Area Network or LAN
  • Home Area Network
  • Personal area network, or PAN
  • Home Automation Network
  • Wide area network, or WAN
  • Metropolitan area network, or MAN

1. Local Area Network

A local area network (LAN), or local net, connects computers and devices in a limited geographic area, such as one office, one building, or a group of buildings close together. LANs are the basis for most office networks. The LANs of different offices on a university campus may also be linked together into a so-called campus-area network.

2. Home Area Network

A home area network (HAN) uses wired, cable, or wireless connections to link a household’s digital devices not only multiple computers, printers, and storage devices but also VCRs, DVDs, televisions, fax machines, videogame machines, and home security systems. 4 (A variant of the HAN is the GAN the garden area network  which can be used to link watering systems, outdoor lights, and alarm systems.)

3. Personal Area Network

Slightly different from a HAN because it doesn’t use wires or cables, a personal area network (PAN) , or wireless personal area network (WPAN), uses short-range wireless technology to connect an individual’s personal electronics, such as cellphone, PDA, MP3 player, notebook PC, and printer. PANs are made possible with such inexpensive, short-range wireless technologies as Bluetooth, ultra wideband, and wireless USB, which have a range of 30 feet or so, as we will describe.

4. Home Automation Network

A home automation network relies on very inexpensive, very short-range, low-power wireless technology in the under- 200-Kbps range to link switches and sensors around the house. 5 Such networks, which use wireless standards such as Insteon, ZigBee, and Z-Wave, as we will describe, run on inexpensive AA batteries and use wireless remotes,

5. Wide Area Network

A wide area network (WAN) is a communications network that covers a wide geographic area, such as a country or the world. Most long-distance and regional telephone companies are WANs. A WAN may use a combination of satellites, fiber-optic cable, microwave, and copper-wire connections and link a variety of computers, from mainframes to terminals.

WANs are used to connect local area networks (see below) together, so that users and computers in one location can communicate with users and computers in other locations. A wide area network may be privately owned or rented, but the term usually connotes the inclusion of public (shared-user) networks. The best example of a WAN is the internet.

6. Metropolitan Area Network

A metropolitan area network (MAN) is a communications network covering a city or a suburb. The purpose of a MAN is often to bypass local telephone companies when accessing long distance services. Many cellphone systems are MANs.

Read Also: Benefits of Using Computers in your Organizations

Network Topology (Logical Layout of Networks).

The networks topology is the logical layout, or shape, of a network. There are three basic topologies, they are bus, ring, and star networks.

  • Bus Network

Different Types of Networks

The bus network works like a bus system at rush hour, with various buses pausing in different bus zones to pick up passengers. In a bus network, all communications devices are connected to a common channel. That is, in a bus network, all nodes are connected to a single wire or cable, the bus, which has two endpoints. Each communications device on the network transmits electronic messages to other devices. If some of those messages collide, the sending device waits and tries to transmit again. The advantage of a bus network is that it may be organized as a client server or peer-to-peer network.

  • Ring Network

Different Types of Networks

ring network is one in which all microcomputers and other communications devices are connected in a continuous loop. There are no endpoints. Electronic messages are passed around the ring until they reach the right destination.

There is no central server. An example of a ring network is IBM’s Token Ring Network, in which a bit pattern (called a “token”) determines which user on the network can send information, as we’ll discuss. The advantage of a ring network is that messages flow in only one direction. Thus, there is no danger of collisions. The disadvantage is that if a connection is broken, the entire network stops working.

  • Star Network

Network Topology

A star network is one in which all microcomputers and other communications devices are directly connected to a central server. Electronic messages are routed through the central hub to their destinations. The central hub monitors the flow of traffic. A PBX system—a private telephone system, such as that found on a college campus, that connects telephone extensions to each other—is an example of a star network.

Traditional star networks are designed to be easily expandable because hubs can be connected to additional hubs of other networks. The advantage of a star network is that the hub prevents collisions between messages. Moreover, if a connection is broken between any communications device and the hub, the rest of the devices on the network will continue operating.


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