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CAN vs. LAN vs. MAN

The differences between CAN, LAN, and MAN are in their definitions. While many can guess what a campus network is, not everyone can spell out its difference from other types of networks. Regardless, as mentioned above, CAN is an interconnected network within a university or organization campus or military base.

On the other hand, LAN, otherwise referred to as Local Area Network, refers to computer networks covering a small geographic location, often ranging between 1 and 5kms. LAN can cover a group of buildings, a school, home, or offices. In most cases, LAN connections are made through Ethernet cables even though end-user devices can communicate through wireless connections.

MAN or Metropolitan Area Network is a computer network used within a city or geographical location covering a wide range, often between 50 and 60kms. Unlike LAN and CAN, MAN is a high-speed network that interconnects multiple local area networks into an extensive network using a common bridge. In most cases, the bridge, referred to as backbone lines, uses optical fibers to enhance data transfer speed.

Below is a comparison of the three network types

Network ownershipPrivatePrivatePrivate or Public
Geographical area coveredSmallModerateVery large
Design and maintenanceEasyModerate to difficultDifficult
Data ratesHighModerateLow
CongestionLess congestionAverage congestionHeavily congested
ApplicationSchool, hospitalsUniversities, military campsTowns and cities

As for their application, LAN can be set up by enterprises that want to deny access to illegal users while maintaining business security. A widely known application of MAN is the cable TV network used in many cities. MAN networks are used by government bodies and private firms to connect departmental offices located in different locations.



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