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local-area network
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wide-area network

A computer network that spans a relatively small area. Most LANs are confined to a single building or group of buildings. However, one LAN can be connected to other LANs over any distance via telephone lines and radio waves. A system of LANs connected in this way is called a wide-area network (WAN).

Most LANs connect workstations and personal computers. Each node (individual computer ) in a LAN has its own CPU with which it executes programs, but it is also able to access data and devices anywhere on the LAN. This means that many users can share expensive devices, such as laser printers, as well as data. Users can also use the LAN to communicate with each other, by sending e-mail or engaging in chat sessions.

There are many different types of LANs Ethernets being the most common for PCs. Most Apple Macintosh networks are based on Apple's AppleTalk network system, which is built into Macintosh computers.

The following characteristics differentiate one LAN from another:

  • topology : The geometric arrangement of devices on the network. For example, devices can be arranged in a ring or in a straight line.
  • protocols : The rules and encoding specifications for sending data. The protocols also determine whether the network uses a peer-to-peer or client/server architecture.
  • media : Devices can be connected by twisted-pair wire, coaxial cables, or fiber optic cables. Some networks do without connecting media altogether, communicating instead via radio waves.
  • LANs are capable of transmitting data at very fast rates, much faster than data can be transmitted over a telephone line; but the distances are limited, and there is also a limit on the number of computers that can be attached to a single LAN.



    For internet.com pages about local-area network, . Also, check out the following links!


    More Information

    Outstanding Page Boardwatch Magazine: Setting Up a Local Area Network
    Questions to ask and things to consider when setting up a local area network

    Outstanding Page Ethernet tutorial
    Contains an in-depth introduction to local area networks from Lantronix. Updated on Aug 5, 1998

    Outstanding Page LAN Times Online
    The LAN Times online publication offers current news and analysis on the networking industry, along with links to trade shows and events, career development, and information on UnixWorld. Updated on Aug 1, 1998

      ARCNET Trade Association home page
    Home page for ARCNET Trade Association, a non-profit organization of ARCNET users and manufacturers. This site provides a history of ARCNET, links to technical publications, membership information, directories, and product information. Updated on Aug 24, 1997

      Cable alternatives - technical tutorial
    Describes several cable alternatives (UTP, SFTP and multimode fiber) for high-speed LAN technologies. From the April 1997 issue of Data Communications Magazine. Updated on Jun 1, 1998

      CD-ROM LAN FAQ
    Provides answers to questions on CD-ROM networking solutions and links to related newsgroups, publications, and FTP sites.

      Data communication links
    Collection of links to LAN, WAN and serial communications resources from Data Comm for Business, Inc. Updated on Aug 1, 1998

      LAN Backbone Switching
    White paper that describes the use of switching technology to address congestion on a network backbone.

      LAN properties
    Briefly describes LAN properties with a link to information on Ethernet. Updated on May 30, 1997

      RAD Data Communications
    Home page for RAD Data Communications, manufacturer of WAN and LAN access equipment for carriers, service providers, and corporate networks. Updated on Aug 1, 1998

      Silicom home page
    Silicom provides PC LAN cards and modular pocket LAN adapters products. Their home page provides links to company and product information, technical support, distributors, and press releases. Updated on Jul 16, 1998

      Usenet Local Area Network (LAN) FAQs
    Provides links to several LAN FAQs taken from usenet newsgroups. Some of the main topics include: data communications cabling, ethernet LAN, and LAN mail protocols.

      Windows 95 -- Easy Networking FAQ
    Describes how to set up a local-area network under Windows 95. The FAQ is maintained by Alan Zisman.

      Yahoo!'s local-area network (LAN) page
    Yahoo!'s directory of local-area network. Updated on Aug 4, 1998

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