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Understanding the Network: A Practical Guide to Internetworking by Martin J. Michael

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Computer Network Types

What is a computer network? Generically, a network is a collection of computers interconnected by a common method. Because this definition is rather abstract and provides little insight about how the interconnection is achieved, further definition is required. There are currently three classes of computer networks:

  • Wide area networks (WANs)

  • Local area networks (LANs)

  • Metropolitan area networks (MANs)

LANs are limited to a single geographical area (usually a building or collection of buildings, such as a college or company campus complex). Most LANs utilize high-speed networking technologies and are limited by the network size constraints associated with those particular technologies.

A WAN is a collection of LANs in different ...

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