Computer Networks and Types of Computer Network

Alfred Ajibola - Wed, 17th July, 2019 @ 16:44: PM

Topics in ICT

Routers, Types and Functions of Routers Computer scheme of work, SS1, First Term Computer scheme of work, SS1, Second Term Computer scheme of work, SS1, Third Term Computer Networks and Types of Computer Network Domain Name System; How DNS works and Types of DNS Servers Internet of Things (IoT), How IoT works, its advantages and challenges How to consume less data on your android phone Best programming languages to learn Internet, Notable Dates and Events on Internet Evolution

Academic Questions in ICT

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A specialized router residing at the boundary of a company's network is called a/an _____.

  • A. Wired Router
  • B. Wireless Router
  • C. Core Router
  • D. Edge Router
  • E. Virtual Router
  • F. LAN Router
  • G. WAN Router

Which of the following is NOT a type of computer network?

  • A. NAN
  • B. MAN
  • C. CAN
  • D. LAN
  • E. WAN
  • F. PAN

The above diagram best illustrate a _____.

  • A. LAN
  • B. WAN
  • C. CAN
  • D. MAN
  • E. PAN
  • F. NAN

The layer 3 device that move packets between devices, allowing Network communication is called a _____.

  • A. Switch
  • B. Router
  • C. Firewall 
  • D. Computer
  • E. Smart phone
  • F. Central Procession Unit

What are Computer Networks?

We live a digital age where computers are at the core of almost everything. Gone were the days when people had to buy things by going to a shopping mall or supermarket. To be honest, many people still visit the supermarket to by their needs, but the reality is; “the emergence of computer networks have transformed a wide range of commercial activities”. This will imply that you can purchase any car of your choice from any part of the world at the comfort of you home; all thanks to computer networks.

To simply put it, computer network is a group of computers that are linked to each other such that they can share resources.

Generally, these groups of computers that form a network are called nodes.

Some of these nodes will function to store information which will be served to other computers. The nodes that function to store and serve such information are known as servers.

Some of the computers (nodes) will request information from the server. The computers that functions to request information from the server are known as clients.

Also, it is important to note that a computer isn't just a laptop or PC (Personal computer). Phones and smart watches are computers too. Other devices that can also act as computers includes television, cars, buses, refrigerator, doors, fans, clothes and so on. You may read on the internet of things here.

Before we look into the types of computer networks, the analogy below will help you better understand what computer networks are.

You are reading this article from a computer device which could be a phone or personal computer. Your computer device will need to be connected to some form of network before you can have access to the internet. Over the internet are so many other computers that have lots of information stored on them. As you might have guessed, your phone or computer on which you are reading this article is the client. It required a form of network (computer network) to get this stored information from another computer called the server which resides over the internet. The point is, there must be a form of computer network through which data is transferred back and forth between the client and the server.

In another example, you can create a simple network between two phones through the use of Bluetooth, wireless connection (xender) or infrared. Once this basic network is created, you can share images, videos and other files between both computers. This simple network created by you is also a computer network.


Types of Computer Networks

One of the ways to classify computer networks will be on the basis of geographical size. A computer network can be so small that it will only require two computers where one acts as the client and the other as server. An instance of this small network is one created by Bluetooth on two phones. Conversely, a computer network can also be so large that it spans the entire globe. This type of network will comprise of billions of connected computers that interact with one another. For instance, you are reading this article which had been sent from a computer (server) which may probably not be in your continent at the moment. You are actually connected to this server through a network from your service provider. As a matter of fact, this is what the internet is all about. You can read on notable dates of internet evolution here.

Think of the internet as the largest computer networks that spans the entire globe. People fondly refer to the internet as the “Network of networks”.


Below are types of computer networks based on GEOGRAPHICAL SIZE

1. Personal Area Network (PAN)

A PAN is network comprising few computers typically within a range of 10meters. As the name implies , PAN is created for our personal use which could be in our homes or office. For instance, your home may comprise of a Personal Area Network where your laptops, phones, console games like Play Station / X Box, television and refrigerator are all connected. Also, the network created by Bluetooth, WiFi and infrared are all PANs.

The PAN is a small network with a maximum range of about 30 meters.

The term SOHO stands for "Small Office Home Office". SOHO networks are often connected via a PAN.

Note: Personal Area Network can be created in a wireless or a wired form. For this reason, PAN is of two types:

  • Wireless PAN: Wireless technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth are used here. The range of this network can be very low depending on the wireless technology utilized.
  • Wired PAN: This can be created via the use of networking switches, routers and even a USB cable.

Thomas Zimmermam was the first research scientist to propose the idea of the Personal Area Network


2. Local Area Network or LAN

A LAN is a network formed by computers within a building and under a single administrative control. Take for instance, Banks and Corporate buildings will usually have LAN within them which must be controlled and protected by the staff of the IT department present in the specific building. This will also mean that each branch of a bank will have its respective LAN managed by the IT department within such branch.

Cables, Routers and Switches are normally used to create the LAN network. The cables utilized could be copper twisted pair cable or coaxial cable.

Security and speed are paramount within a LAN network.


3. Campus Area Network (CAN)

As the name implies, a CAN will typically span over the campus, educational institutions or a large college system. It will serve to connect the different departments within the campus, including the students through a secure channel. It is often considered as a network of multiple interconnected LAN. This means that several interconnected LANs will give rise to a CAN.

CAN is always bigger than a Local Area Network but smaller than a Metropolitan Area Network


4. Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

A MAN covers a larger geographical area, usually a metropolis or within a city. For instance, all bank branches of the Lagos metropolis may be connected to their Head Quarters (HQ) present within Lagos via a MAN. The military forces within a  state can also make use of MAN for their network communications.


5. Wide Area Network (WAN)

A WAN is much larger than all the aforementioned types of network. The internet itself falls within the WAN category. The WAN span over a large area and even the entire globe through some advance technologies that utilizes high speed routers and switches, cellular networks, satellite links and fibre optic cables that can run between continents.

Your service provider will often charge you for data which will be used to access the WAN. The WAN enables you access information from other computers (servers) around the world. Examples of Wide Area Network includes :

  • Mobile Broadband: This comes in the form of 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G.
  • Last mile: It’s considered a telecom company that provides internet services to its customers.
  • Private Networks: This is used by very large corporate institution that are involved in transfer of heavy financial data within and outside the country. A private network may come in the form of a telephone leased line or MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching)


Note: Apart from the geographical classification of network, computer networks can also be classified based on Network design. The two main form of networks based on designs are:

  1. Client / Server Network
  2. Peer to Peer Network


Alfred Ajibola is a Medical Biochemist, a passionate Academician with over 7 years of experience, a Versatile Writer, a Web Developer, a Cisco Certified Network Associate and a Cisco CyberOps Associate.

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Amazing facts in ICT

Image Credit: Neowin

Smoking near an Apple (Mac) computer voids the warranty.

When you add /4 to the end of Facebook's URL, it will take you to Mark Zuckerberg.

You can try it on you own; or better still, try the link below:



The internet and the World Wide Web (www) IS NOT the same thing. 

The internet is formed from the joining or linking of different networks. 

For instance, Google's network, Facebook's network and Yahoo's network are among the many other networks that make up the internet.

World Wide Web on the other hand is a collection of linked pages (for instance, this page you're on).

There are actually billions of linked pages in various servers around the world.

You require the internet and a web browser to get to the World Wide Web

Please read more on the internet here

Types of Networks Based on Geographical size

  1. Personal Area Network (PAN): An instance is a Bluetooth connection between two devices.

  2. Local Area Network (LAN): This is the network under a single administrative control and usually within a building.

  3. Campus Area Network (CAN): This network connects various devices within a campus or college

  4. Metropolitan Area Network (MAN): This network connects two offices/companies within a city

  5. Wide Area Network (WAN): This network connects devices throughout the globe. The internet is a typical example of a WAN.

You can read more on the types of network based on Geographical Size here