There are several classifications for networks

  • Classification based on Scale(size)
  • Classification based on Topology
  • Classification based on Architecture

Based on Scale

Based on the scale (size), networks are classified into following

  1. PAN (Personal Area Network)
  2. LAN (Local Area Network)
  3. CAN (Campus Area Network)
  4. MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)
  5. DAN (Desert Area Network)
  6. CAN* (Country Area Network)
  7. WAN (Wide Area Network)
  8. GAN (Global Area Network)

Personal Area Network (PAN)

  • Used for data transmission among devices such as computers, mobile phones, PDA etc.
  • Within few meters like 10 meters only
  • Medium : Bluetooth, Infrared
  • Only very few connections will be available

Local Area Network (LAN)

The term LAN refers to a local network or a group of interconnected networks that are under the same administrative control. In the early days of networking, LANS are defined as small networks that existed in a single physical location. While LANs can be a single network installed in a home or small office, the definition of LAN has evolved to include interconnected local networks consisting of hundreds of hosts, installed in multiple buildings and locations. LANs are designed to operate within a limited geographic area. Allow Multi-access to high bandwidth media.

LANs consist of the following components:

  • Computers
  • Network interface cards
  • Peripheral devices
  • Networking media
  • Network devices


LANs allow businesses to locally shared computer files and printers efficiently and make internal communications possible. A good example of this technology is email. LANs manage data, local communications, and computing equipment. Some standard LAN technologies include the following:

  • Ethernet
  • Token Ring
  • FDDI

Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

  • Metropolitan Area Network, are data networks designed for a town In terms of geographic breadth
  • MANs are larger than local area networks (LANs), but smaller than wide-area networks)
  • MANs are usually characterized by very high-speed connections using fiber optical cable or other digital media
  • Generally covers towns and cities (50 kms)
  • Medium: optical fibers, cables.
  • Data rates adequate for distributed computing applications.

Country Area Network (CAN*)

  • It’s wide area network which is limited to country
  • It consist of more than one MAN
  • It may be extended up to thousands kms
  • It is more public network owned by some public organization or governments
  • Example: In Nepal NTC have CAN*

Wide Area Network (WAN)

A network that spans a broader geographical area than a local area network over a public communication network. WANs interconnect LANs, which then provide access to computers or file servers in other locations. Because WANs connect user networks over a large geographical area, they make it possible for businesses to communicate across great distances. WANs allow computers, printers, and other devices on a LAN to be shared with distant locations. WANs provide instant communications across large geographic areas. Collaboration software provides access to real-time information and resources and allows meetings to be held remotely. WANs have created a new class of workers called telecommuters. These people never have to leave their homes to go to work.

WANs are designed to do the following:

  • Operate over a large and geographically separated area
  • Allow users to have real-time communication capabilities with other users
  • Provide full-time remote resources connected to local services
  • Provide e-mail, Internet, file transfer, and e-commerce services

Some common WAN technologies include the following:

  • Modems
  • Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
  • Digital subscriber line (DSL)
  • Frame Relay
  • T1, E1, T3, and E3
  • Synchronous Optical Network (SONET)