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Local area network (LAN)

2004-12-31
 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

A local area network (LAN) is a computer network covering a local area, like a home, office or small group of buildings such as a college. The topology of a network dictates its physical structure.

The generally accepted maximum size for a LAN is 1000m2. LANs are different from personal area networks (PANs), metropolitan area networks (MANs) or wide area networks (WANs). LANs are typically faster than WANs.

The earliest popular LAN, ARCnet, was released in 1977 by Datapoint and was originally intended to allow multiple Datapoint 2200s to share disk storage. Like all early LANs, ARCnet was originally vendor-specific. Standardization efforts by the IEEE have resulted in the IEEE 802 series of standards. There are now two common wiring technologies for a LAN, Ethernet and Token Ring. Wireless technologies are starting to evolve and are convenient for mobile computer users.

When using Ethernet the computers are usually wired to a hub or to a switch. This constitutes the physical transport mechanism.

The Spanning tree protocol is often used to maintain a loop free network topology within a LAN, particularly with ethernet.

A number of network protocols may use the basic physical transport mechanism including TCP/IP. In this case DHCP is a convenient way to obtain an IP address rather than using fixed addressing. LANs can be interlinked by connections to form a Wide area network. A router is used to make the connection between LANs.



Related Topics
5 Layers of the Internet (HTTP, TCP/IP and NAP)
Network Management
Classification of Computer network
Wide area network (WAN)
Wireless LAN

 


This article is from Wikipedia.org. All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.