In the early days of computers, networking was reserved for technophiles. Homes rarely had more than one. Today, however, home computers are used for everything from email and schoolwork to TV, gaming and social media. The rising popularity of handheld devices is making the wireless network even more essential. Being informed about the various types of connections possible will help consumers make a better choice about the type of network that is the right for them.
The first type of wireless network is the Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN). A WPAN is created by the interconnection of two devices that are in relative proximity to each other. Typically, the two devices are within an arms length of each other. An example of this is the communication between a television and its remote. An infrared light connects the two, allowing the remote to change the channel. Other examples include the connection between a keyboard and a computer and the connection between a Bluetooth and a cell phone.
Another type of wireless network that is commonly used is the Wireless Local Area Network (LAN). Two or more devices, communicating through an access point, make up a LAN. Wireless home networks (HAN) are a good example of a LAN. If a LAN has an Internet connection, all of the devices will share the same connection.
If one needs to cover a larger area than a LAN, a wireless Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) is created. A MAN links multiple locations in a general area. A college campus typically has a LAN, called a College Area Network (CAN), for each branch. The branches are then connected to form a MAN.
Even larger than a wireless Metropolitan Area Network is a wireless Wide Area Network (WAN). A WAN is a network that connects devices over a large geographic, transmitting data through common points such as telephone lines and satellite dishes. The best example of a WAN is the internet. The internet joins local and metropolitan area networks all over the world.
A different type of wireless network is the Ad-Hoc Network. An Ad-Hoc Network is a decentralized type of wireless networking. It allows multiple devices to communicate without the use of a router or other access point. Instead, an Ad Hoc Network allows data to flow by each node forwarding data from the other nodes. Typically, Ad Hoc Networks are created on the fly for a specific purpose. Most Ad-Hoc networks are closed, meaning they do not have internet access. An example of an Ad Hoc Network is the connection between two portable video game systems. A connection is established, data is exchanged and then the connection is broken and the network is destroyed.
A specific type of Ad Hoc network is the Wireless Mesh Network (WMN). A wireless mesh network connects access points at each users location. Each user acts as a node to forward data through the network. A good example of a WMN is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). VoIP takes analog voice signals and changes them into digital signals which can then be relayed over the internet.
Being informed about the different types of networks can make a difference in how difficult it is to establish a wireless network. The Local Area Network, Metropolitan Area Network, Wide Area Network, Ad-Hoc Network and the Wireless Mesh Network all have benefits and drawbacks. The needs of the end user should dictate the type of network the user should choose.