Lan Wan Man Comparison Essay

The Network allows computers to connect and communicate with different computers via any medium. LAN, MAN, and WAN are the three types of the network designed to operate over the area they cover. There are some similarities and dissimilarities between them. One of the major differences is the geographical area they cover, i.e. LAN covers the smallest area; MAN  covers an area larger than LAN and WAN comprises the largest of all.

Content: LAN Vs MAN Vs WAN

  1. Comparison Chart
  2. Definition
  3. Key Differences
  4. Conclusion

Comparison Chart

Expands toLocal Area NetworkMetropolitan Area Network Wide Area Network
MeaningA network that connects a group of computers in a small geographical area.It covers relatively large region such as cities, towns.It spans large locality and connects countries together. Example Internet.
Ownership of NetworkPrivatePrivate or PublicPrivate or Public
Design and maintenanceEasyDifficultDifficult
Propagation DelayShortModerateLong
SpeedHigh ModerateLow
Fault ToleranceMore TolerantLess TolerantLess Tolerant
CongestionLess MoreMore
Used forCollege, School, Hospital.Small towns, City.Country/Continent.

Definition of Local Area Network

LAN or Local Area Network links network devices in such a way that personal computer and workstations can share data, tools and programs. Data transmits at a very fast rate as the number of computers linked are limited. LAN’s cover smaller geographical area and are privately owned. One can use it for an office building, home, hospital, schools, etc. LAN is easy to design and maintain.

A Communication medium used for LAN has twisted pair cables and coaxial cables. It covers a short distance, and so the error and noise are minimized.

Definition of Metropolitan Area Network

MAN or Metropolitan area Network covers a larger area than that of a LAN and smaller area as compared to WAN. It connects two or more computers that are apart but resides in the same or different cities. It covers a large geographical area and may serve as an ISP (Internet Service Provider). It’s hard to design and maintain a Metropolitan Area Network.

It is costly and may or may not be owned by a single organization. The data transfer rate of MAN is moderate.

Definition of Wide Area Network

WAN or Wide Area Network is a computer network that extends over a large geographical area. A WAN could be a connection of LAN connecting to other LAN’s via telephone lines and radio waves.

Wide Area Network may or may not be privately owned. A Communication medium used for wide area network is PSTN or Satellite Link. Due to long distance transmission, the noise and error tend to be more in WAN. Propagation delay is one of the biggest problems faced here.

Key Differences Between LAN, MAN and WAN

  1. The geographical area covered by LAN is small, whereas, MAN covers relatively large and WAN covers the greatest of all.
  2. LAN is confined to schools, hospitals or buildings, whereas, MAN connects small towns or Cities and on the other hand, WAN covers Country or a group of Countries.
  3. Devices used for transmission of data are-
    LAN: WiFi, Ethernet Cables.
    MAN: Modem and Wire/Cable
    WAN: Optic wires, Microwaves, Satellites.
  4. LAN’s transmit data at a faster rate than MAN and WAN.
  5. Maintenance of LAN is easier than that of MAN and WAN.
  6. The bandwidth available for transmission is higher in LAN than MAN and WAN.
  7. Data transmission errors and noise are least in LAN, moderate in MAN and high in WAN.


There are many advantages of LAN over MAN and WAN, such as LAN’s provide excellent reliability, high data transmission rate, they can easily be managed, and shares peripheral devices too. Local Area Network cannot cover cities or towns and for that Metropolitan Area Network is needed, which can connect city or a group of cities together. Further, for connecting Country or a group of Countries one requires Wide Area Network.

Filed Under: Networking

What makes a WAN different from a LAN and MAN?

The terms you mention in your question are frequently come by in today's network books and discussions. WAN (Wide...

Area Network) is used to describe large scale networks that extend across areas, cities and even countries around the globe. International companies with offices around the world use various methods to interconnect them between each other, allowing them to freely exchange data, voice and other services. The speed in which these huge networks run at are relatively small, mainly due to the high costs involved.

On the other side, LAN (Local Area Networks) are found in every type of company, office and home. These "small" networks (compared to WAN networks) are fast, much cheaper and easy to maintain in most situations. Today, we have LAN networks running at speeds that touch the 10 Gbps mark, making them lightening fast. The equipment required to run these networks is not considered that expensive, plus, they are easy to maintain.

MAN (Metropolitan Area Networks) are somewhere in between WAN and LAN networks. They can spread over a city or two and connect smaller office (LAN) networks between them. The equipment required to run them can be a bit expensive and the speeds they usually reach are the 50-100 Mbps mark depending on the way they interconnect.

Each type of network uses their own special set of protocols in order to ensure they operate in the most efficient way, without outages and problems. These protocols vary depending on the type of network. For example, LAN networks usually run the Ethernet Protocol allowing local nodes/workstations to communicate between each other.

STP (Spanning Tree Protocol) is also another frequently used protocol that makes sure no network loops are created between switches. MAN and WAN protocols may use routing protocols whose job is to make sure everyone knows about the available networks and how they can be reached.

In WAN protocols, you also won't find traditional equipment such as switches or hubs. They only exist in the LAN networks. WAN and MAN networks make use of more sophisticated equipment such as routers that are designed to help connect between each other at high speeds. Routers are found at the boundary of a LAN network, connecting them to larger networks (WANs).

I hope this brief introduction helps make things a big more clearer. For more information, please visit's networking FAQ guide.

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