7 different network types and usage cases

7 different network types and usage cases

A computer network is a collection of interconnected devices known as network nodes that exchange information, data, and resources. Devices that connect to a network might be as basic as laptops or smartphones, depending on the sort of network. Bigger networks build the underlying network infrastructure using hardware like routers and switches.

Every network is different. There are various network kinds, each of which is there to support the system’s devices, size, and location. Networks also have several sorts of connectivity and access levels.

Seven typical network types, together with their advantages and use cases, are listed below.


1. Perimeter network

The lowest and most basic sort of network is a personal area network (PAN). PANs, which connect devices within a person’s range and are no bigger than roughly 10 meters (m). The majority of PANs are wireless and offer short-range networking using infrared technology because they operate in such constrained amounts of space.

When users attach Bluetooth accessories to a smartphone or laptop, such as wireless headsets, they are creating a wireless PAN. Although wireless PANs predominate, there are wired PAN solutions, including USB.


PN usage examples

PANs are set up to let individual users to connect their devices in their immediate area. A body area network, in which a user wears linked gadgets, is a concrete illustration of this. PANs may play a significant role in the field of futurology in the future. PANs also include small home networks with PCs, printers, and other wireless devices.


2. Regional intranet

A local area network (LAN) is a system that connects computers and other devices in a single space. The range of a LAN can be anywhere from a few meters in a home to hundreds of meters in a huge corporation building, whereas PANs connect devices around an individual. The way devices in LANs are connected depends on the network topology.

Both wired and wireless networking methods are used in LANs. Although traditional wired LAN has lost ground to wireless LAN (WLAN) in terms of popularity, wired LAN is still the more dependable and secure alternative. WLANs connect network devices using hardware like wireless routers and access points rather than physical cables and switches like those used in wired LANs.

To protect wireless networks, network administrators might install security protocols and encryption standards. Since they require a physical cable to make a connection and are much less prone to compromise, wired LANs are typically more secure.


LAN usage examples

LANs provide a variety of network contexts, including home offices and business networks. Users at home offices can link their devices and efficiently transmit data between them. In-office staff members can easily communicate, exchange, and access the same information and services offered by their employer.

Wi-Fi is the most typical WLAN application case. Wi-Fi radio waves can be used by a wireless network to link several devices together in a single space. Yet, it’s crucial to remember that WLAN and Wi-Fi are not the same. A WLAN is a network that uses Wi-Fi, however not all WLANs do.


A virtual LAN

A sort of LAN setup known as a virtual LAN (VLAN) divides network components into pieces virtually. To operate segments as standalone systems, apart from the rest of the LAN, network administrators build VLANs. By segregating LAN traffic for each segment, VLANs decrease network congestion, enhancing network performance and efficiency, streamlining network administration, and boosting security.


3. Network covering a large area

A city, town, or municipality’s LANs are connected together to form a metropolitan area network (MAN). A MAN, like LANs, can connect by a variety of wired or wireless methods, such as fiber optics, Ethernet cables, Wi-Fi, or cellular.

MAN usage examples

A MAN’s primary goal is to make the same network accessible from multiple places. A LAN only allows one place to access the network. Businesses with LANs in the same municipality, such as various office buildings, can expand their network access to those various sites via a MAN.


Governmental organizations can also set up MANs to link users to public networks. Municipalities deploying wireless MAN technology to provide free, public Wi-Fi to city citizens is an example of this.

4. College network

A campus network is a network of interconnected, scattered LANs, often known as a campus area network (CAN). Campus networks expand coverage to nearby buildings similarly to MANs. Campus networks connect LANs inside a constrained geographic area, whereas MANs connect LANs within a broader metro area. This is where the two configurations diverge. A campus network’s geographic coverage area ranges from 1 to 5 kilometers, whereas MANs can cover 50 kilometers.


College use cases

Campus networks are frequently set up by network administrators to construct networks big enough to cover a school or university. Yet, corporations also set up campus networks to distribute one standardized network across buildings in a specific area. The phrase “campus network” may give the impression that these networks are exclusively useful in university situations.


5. large-scale network

The largest configuration of a computer network is a wide area network (WAN). Similar to a MAN, a WAN connects various LANs that are part of the same network. Yet, unlike MANs, WANs are not limited to the boundaries of cities. Any region of the world can be reached by a WAN. A company with a corporate office in New York, for instance, can link a branch facility in London to the same WAN. Users are able to speak with one another and have access to the same data, files, and applications in both places.

WAN usage examples

A WAN’s ability to provide long-distance network connectivity is its key selling point. WANs are used by businesses to connect branch offices that are separated from the main office. However, WANs are not only useful for businesses; the internet, which is currently the most widely used and largest WAN in the world, is used by an estimated two thirds of the world’s population.


6. Network that delivers content

A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of globally dispersed servers that provides web-based internet users with dynamic multimedia material, such as interactive advertisements or video content. CDNs make use of specialized servers to accelerate delivery of bandwidth-intensive rich media content. At the network edge, CDN providers deploy these digitalized servers all over the world, establishing points of presence that are dispersed geographically.

When a user requests data over a network, a proxy server sends the request to the closest CDN server, which then encrypts the request and sends it to the origin server in a smaller, more manageable form. The user receives the material from an origin server. Organizations have a wide range of CDN vendor options from which to choose to purchase services, and CDNs are comparatively easy to configure.


CDN use examples

The distribution of rich, or dynamic, media is made possible via CDNs. Dynamic content, which ranges from video-streaming players to embedded social network updates, is present on the majority of websites and applications. The enormous volume of complicated data shared daily by millions of internet users makes CDNs more crucial than ever.


7. Networked virtual private

A virtual private network (VPN) envelops an existing public network with a private network. VPNs use tunneling methods to provide secure connections between client devices and the network. In order to properly conceal a user’s IP address and data from ISPs and cybersecurity hackers, network traffic is routed through secure, encrypted tunnels provided by the VPN provider rather than a public network. The location of the user seems to be wherever the VPN server is.

What kind of network is ideal?

Even beyond the scope of this manual, there are several network types, associated topologies, and connectivity strategies. A network expert who is learning how to construct a network could be confused about the ideal design. There isn’t one, is the short answer. The function of the system has a big impact on what kind of network to configure.


Network experts should initially ask a number of questions about the system before deciding which form of network to configure. The process of deciding which network type and connection to deploy will be aided by knowing the network’s use case, the categories of users and devices it will support, and the network’s location.


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