A local area network, or LAN, is a group of connected devices (such as computers, printers, and fax machines) in one physical location, like a commercial building, school, or home. A LAN might be large or small, ranging from a school network with thousands of devices and users to a home network with a single user. In either case, it enables faster data transfer and better performance.
The defining trait of a LAN, regardless of size, is that it connects devices in
a limited area. To compare, a wide area network, also known as a WAN, or a metropolitan area network, aka a MAN, spans across much larger geographic areas. In some cases, WANs and MANs are used to connect several LANs.
A LAN is made of two core components, an internet connection and a router, both of which we’ll explore below.
Computers and other devices connect to the internet through a browser. Most homes today have an internet connection, and it’s the backbone of businesses in the modern world because almost everything happens online. Especially post 2020. As you probably already know, you can set up internet service through an internet service provider, also known as an or ISP.
Internet service providers charge a monthly fee for access to the required equipment and connection. They also help their customers, both residential and commercial, understand what kind of setup they need, how many people will be using the network, and the necessary bandwidth. Once the service provider has installed the equipment and activated the account, users can access the internet from their computers and other connected devices.
Most ISPs provide a router and a modem for a fee that’s included in basic packages. You might be able to save money over time by buying a router that fits your needs. Routers can be either wireless or wired. Wireless routers connect directly to the modem using a cable and wirelessly to other devices. Wired routers connect directly to the modem and connected devices using a cable and multiple ports. Many routers can function wirelessly and wired, and businesses will need high-security routers that are often different from residential units.
A router can connect multiple devices across a large or small LAN. Each device, including the router itself, is assigned an IP address similar to a phone number or street address.
Ethernet cables connect your router to your computers and devices. In a wireless network, this component is unnecessary, but it serves as a simple way to interconnect multiple devices. Using ethernet cable in a business network offers many advantages. It’s more affordable, reliable, and stable than wireless networks. Ethernet cables also make connections much faster and can go up to 1 Gbps for a radius of 100 meters.
Once all of these components are set up, users can access the internet through their operating system using a browser. Most operating systems can function in a network that allows you to add users, share storage, and enable share options for various devices like printers and scanners.
Benefits of LAN
LANs have multiple benefits and are popular in the business world. Employees and workers can access the internet and connect with each other internally with faster service all around.
Internet service providers typically offer installation and support for anyone looking to set up a network. They can also assist with expansions for growing businesses. Some of the many benefits of using a LAN include better email configuration, telecommunication, video conferencing, internal communication between systems, device configuration, and data sharing. A LAN can also enable chat services.