A local area network (LAN) is a computer network that connects computers and devices in a limited geographical area such as home, school, computer laboratory or office building. The defining characteristics of LANs, in contrast to wide area networks (WANs), include their usually higher data-transfer rates, smaller geographic area, and lack of a need for leased telecommunication lines.
ARCNET, Token Ring and other technologies have been used in the past, but Ethernet over twisted pair cabling, and Wi-Fi are the two most common technologies currently in use.
A wide area network (WAN) is a computer network that covers a broad area (i.e., any network whose communications links cross metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries ). This is in contrast with personal area networks (PANs), local area networks (LANs), campus area networks (CANs), or metropolitan area networks (MANs) which are usually limited to a room, building, campus or specific metropolitan area (e.g., a city) respectively.
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