LAN/WAN/MAN Encyclopedia

- Nov 13, 2020-

What is WAN

WAN (Wide Area Network) refers to a computer network that connects local area networks or metropolitan area networks in different regions. It has a wide coverage range, covering thousands of kilometers, connecting multiple regions, cities and countries, and even across several continents to achieve long-distance communication . Compared with LAN (Local Area Network) and MAN (Metropolitan Area Network), WAN (Wide Area Network) involves more diverse devices, such as routers, switches, firewalls, etc. The various branches of the enterprise can establish WAN connections to achieve communication through microwave, satellite channels, etc. Currently, WAN (wide area network) commonly used protocols include frame relay switching network (fram-relay), point-to-point protocol (PPP), high-level data link control protocol (HDLC), and synchronous data link control protocol (SDLC).

What is MAN

MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) refers to a computer network established within the same city, and its range can cover up to 60 kilometers. The transmission delay of MAN metropolitan area network is small and the speed is fast. It can be regarded as a backbone network, which interconnects hosts, databases and LANs in different locations in the same city through optical cables to establish a high-speed connection network. Commonly used protocols in MAN include Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Distributed Queue Dual Bus (DQDB), and Switched Multi-Megabit Data Service (SMDS).


What is LAN

LAN (that is, local area network) is the most common and widely used network. It refers to two or more computer devices (such as servers, workstations) within a range of 1 to 5 kilometers through cables (such as coaxial cables, dual Stranded wires, optical cables, etc.) are connected to realize resource sharing computer networks, such as homes, offices, schools, or buildings with computers, servers, and peripheral equipment (such as printers, scanners, projectors, and other storage).

At present, Ethernet (IEEE 802.3 standard) is the most common LAN networking method. In recent years, with the formulation of the 802.11 standard, wireless protocols such as IEEE802.11a/b/g/n have been widely used, and the application of wireless LANs has also increased. The more popular, in addition, there are token ring and FDDI (Fiber Distributed Digital Interface, IEEE 802.8) types of LAN (Local Area Network).

What is the difference between LAN, MAN and WAN?

In summary, LAN, MAN and WAN are all a kind of computer network. Although the nature of communication is the same, the three types of networks still differ in coverage and applications. The differences between LAN, MAN and WAN are as follows:


It can be seen from the above that the coverage of the three in descending order is LAN (local area network), MAN (metropolitan area network), and WAN (wide area network).


Transmission medium

Generally, LAN (Local Area Network) uses wireless WiFi or 100/1000Mbps network cable for communication; MAN uses 100Mbps optical cable or modem; and WAN is different from communication between users, it generally uses telephone lines, high-speed data lines, satellites, and microwaves. For communication in other ways, its transmission rate is lower than that of LAN (local area network).


The establishment of LAN (local area network) can effectively deny access to illegal users, ensure business security, and is suitable for corporate intranets. For MAN (Metropolitan Area Network), the most common is the cable TV network of every household in each city. In addition, various government agencies or enterprises can also rely on MAN to connect departmental offices located in different regions. However, some military services, railway reservations, airlines, etc. require high network security, and high-security communications can be achieved by establishing a WAN (Wide Area Network).

Formation and maintenance

Since there are few network nodes in LAN (local area network), it is easier to build and maintain than MAN (metropolitan area network) and WAN (wide area network).


In this article, the features of LAN, MAN, and WAN computer networking system and their differences are displayed. All three types of networking systems have their own significance in different fields. To figure out what are LAN vs MAN vs WAN, and how they differ from each other, one can effectively apply them to where they suit.