What is a LAN (Local Area Network) – Definition and Uses

A local area network (LAN) is simply a group of connected computers and/or peripheral devices that share a physical communication link to a central server either in one geographical area or several geographic regions. A local area network can serve as few as two to several hundred users at a single computer office or thousands of users at a small home-office. Wide Area Networks, or WANs, are collections of different routers or hubs and even servers, which allows users to connect to other users and resources over the same broadband internet connection. Wide Area Networks can offer reliable connections to the Internet and other data networks at faster download speeds than LANs. Although both LAN and WANs have different features and capabilities, there are key similarities between the two types of connection.

Both LAN and WANs share the basic set of hardware components. There are many manufacturers of these devices today, as well as service providers who specialize in their design and implementation. Routers and other hardware components that make up a LAN help connect the devices together in a secure and efficient manner. Many WANs use their own equipment and software for managing their networks. Some providers offer hardware and software from Cisco, Microsoft, and other quality enterprise-grade providers. Some LAN providers use equipment from Cisco that requires no custom hardware installation.

A central component in both LANs is the Local Area Network (LAN). LANs provide the backbone for all other aspects of a LAN, including high-speed Internet access, file sharing, and various other resources such as voice communication and video conferencing. The central aspect of a LAN is the Local Area Network, which consists of a set of connectable computers that are rebooted to provide continuous connectivity to the internet.

A Local Area Network is a Local Area Network of central importance within a metropolitan area or smaller area. It provides fast, reliable connectivity within a defined area with very little loss of bandwidth when using Wide Area Networks. There are two types of Local Area Networks, namely, Layer 2 Interfaces (LPNs) and Layer 3 IP connections. LPNs are the more traditional type of LANs, whereas layer 3 IP connections provide substantially faster transmission speeds. Wide Area Networks, or WANs, have connections using different technology, but operate on the same basic principles of a Local Area Network.

Large amounts of data can be transmitted over long distances at good speed using a Local Area Network. This topology consists of routers, which are the computer parts that link up computers, and hubs, which are groups of routers. Routers and hubs contain multiple sets of transceivers that are linked to each other, in a fashion called optical interconnections. In order for a Local Area Network to function properly, all of the computers that are connected to the same network must be in close proximity to each other.

Optical interconnections were invented by Ray Cavagnelli and George Brown, who were working at Bell Labs. With the help of their invention, however, a large amount of bandwidth could be added to a Local Area Network without using wires. Since optical connections are better than copper wires, the invention has become commonly known as LANs or Local Area Networks. LANs allow various numbers of computers to connect to one another over a Local Area Network without the need for expensive, long-distance phone lines.