Local Area Networks (LANs), Campus Area Networks (CAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN) have a lot in common. The differences in LANS, CANs and WANs
are not only in their acronyms but also in their practice. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages and these distinctions can affect an organization’s productivity significantly.
LAN is basically for use in a small span of areas. CAN systems usually cover a wider area with two or more LAN networks linked together. Each structure in the CAN is an isolated LAN with a common link that unites them. WANs cover a very wide geographical area and made up of several LANs usually linked through several connective links. It’s more common for a public network like a telephone line, a satellite network or a leased line covered by a service provider and a consumer. The Internet is an example of a WAN system.
Local Area Networks (LAN)
LAN connections only operate in a local area which is usually not much bigger than a house, or a floor in an office building. Typically a LAN will connect a handful of clients (like within a home network), but can have support up to a hundred.
The advantages of using a LAN over its larger counterparts are its incredible speed (due to a minimal amount of users), its cost (it’s very cheap to acquire, less hassle to set up and requires simple infrastructure to maintain it) and its ease of setup (very minimum equipment is required, often using the older communications wiring already present in the location without the need for any extensive upgrades). The biggest disadvantage is its size. “Local” means local. Its range is limited and it rapidly deteriorates the further out you go.
Campus Area Network (CAN)
A computer network made up of two or more Local Area Networks (LANs) within a limited area is called a Campus Area Network, or CAN. It covers several buildings in an area and all of the connected computers have some relationship to each other. This is seen with interconnected academic departments, library and computer laboratories. Campus Area Network (CAN) is larger than a Local Area network (LAN) but smaller than Wide Area Network (WAN). This system is wired, wireless or some other technology can be used to connect these computers.
One of the best advantages of using a CAN is its versatility. It covers more area than a LAN but it isn’t as cumbersome as a WAN. Its speed is faster than a LAN because it runs off of several LANs, each running on their own network, interconnecting only when necessary. The cost is not low but it is reasonable since most popular software programs are available for a considerable savings when they are used in a CAN, due to licensing privileges. This also allows for easier maintenance and upgrades. Since CANs also run off a secure server, security is better since the CANs allow the right to see data but not unauthorized access to it.
The disadvantages are the expense (cabling, network cards, routers, bridges, firewalls, wireless access points, and software can get expensive, and the installation would certainly require the services of technicians), the need for administrative access (this provides security but it also means that it requires adequate maintenance and usually there isn’t enough support) and server sensitivity (when the server "goes down", the entire network comes to a halt). Good network design practices suggest implementing redundancies to the network whenever possible.
Wide Area Networks (WANs)
A WAN connection should only really exist in large environments. WAN connections are huge and extensive and connect multiple LANs together. They’re available from house to house, city to city, and country to country. This is its biggest advantage, connecting a large group of people, business environments, schools, public offices and online communities with ease. The range is nearly infinite and it allows for a great deal of convenience and accessibility.
Due to its signature size, however, WANs are almost always slower than a LAN. The further the distance, the slower the network. WANs are usually the opposite of LANs due to their size and number of users.
One of the big disadvantages to having a WAN is the cost. Having a private WAN can be expensive because the technology required to connect two remote places is usually very advanced and powerful, and has an incredible range which means it uses a lot of power and connectivity to work.
Common ways to set up a WAN is by renting it through an internet service provider, which binds connections that already exist outside of setting one up for your organization exclusively. Another way is to connect wirelessly through cellphone towers and satellites, also very expensive to set up and maintain using a common network, even more so for exclusivity.
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