Difference Between LAN, MAN, and WAN (Full Details)

A network enables interconnected computers to communicate with one another over a medium. Three main types of computer networks—WAN, MAN, and LAN—are created for use in the regions they serve. We shall talk about the main distinctions between LAN, MAN, and WAN in this article. But first, we shall investigate each of them separately.

All three of them are comparable yet distinct in a number of ways; their geographic scope being the most notable distinction. The largest area is covered by WAN, followed by MAN and LAN, which each cover smaller areas.

There are numerous further varieties of computer networks, including:

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Enterprise Private Network (EPN)
  • Storage Area Network (SAN)
  • Personal Area Network (PAN)

Computers can connect to the Network and communicate with one another through any medium. The three different types of networks—LAN, MAN, and WAN—are made to function within the boundaries of the regions they serve. Both of their differences and commonalities exist.

The geographic areas they cover, with LAN covering the smallest, MAN covering an area greater than LAN, and WAN making up the largest of all, are one of their key contrasts.

LAN networks also rely on the hardware and communication tools they own for transmission. Contrarily, because MAN and WAN are spread across such a vast area, it is not conceivable to use public, private, or leased communication hardware in these cases.

What is LAN?


It stands for local area network. It links different network components so that workstations and PCs (personal computers) can exchange files, programs, and other resources. A stack of switches or a single switch connects a collection of diverse devices and computers. They employ a private addressing scheme that is specified by the TCP/IP protocol. Every computer has a private address that is distinct from other computers’ private addresses. There are routers that link each LAN to a bigger WAN at the edge of each LAN.

Because it connects to a very small number of computers, the rate of data transfer is quite high. These connections are faster and require gear that is more readily available (for example, network adapters, hubs, Ethernet cables, etc.). A LAN is a privately owned network that individuals use for their homes, offices, schools, hospitals, and other locations over a fairly limited area of a few kilometers. People can design and maintain LANs fairly easily. It uses twisted-pair and coaxial wires for its communication channel. Due to its limited service area, it also has little noise and error.

Early LANs used data rates between 4 Mbps and 16 Mbps. Today, this speed can reach between 100 and 1000 Mbps. The propagation delay of the LAN is quite low. To achieve better security and speed, it typically relies on wired connections, but it may also include wireless connectivity. The smallest LANs might only have two computers, while the biggest ones might have thousands. In a LAN network, users have high fault tolerance and less congestion (like a few students playing together in the same room).

Features of LAN(Local Area Network)

  • A high level of computer connectivity
  • Simple physical connections between computers in a network
  • inexpensive means of transmitting data
  • high speed of data transmission

Example of LAN

Networking in home, office. Networking in school, laboratory, university campus. Networking between two computers. Wi-Fi (When we consider wireless LAN).


  • LAN transmits data quickly
  • LAN technology typically costs less

What is MAN?


It stands for Metropolitan Area Network. It covers a bigger region compared to a LAN but a smaller area than a WAN. In essence, a MAN links two or more devices that are physically separate yet located in the same or other cities. It essentially covers a bigger geographic area and may also act as an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Customers who require greater speed and better connectivity choose MAN. Their speeds vary in terms of Megabytes Per Second, and they are highly challenging to design and manage (Mbps).

Less fault tolerance and increased network congestion are characteristics of MAN. Additionally, it has a moderate data transfer rate and propagation delay. A MAN is incredibly expensive, therefore one group may or may not own one. For the transfer of data, it uses tools like Cable/Wire and Modem. The telephone company networks that can deliver high-speed lines (DSL) to a cable TV network or consumers in any given city are an important illustration of a MAN.

Features of MAN (Metropolitan Area Network)

  • The typical network size is between 5 and 50 kilometers. It could be as small as a collection of buildings on a campus or as big as the entire city.
  • There are moderate to high data rates.
  • Instead of being owned by a single entity as in LAN, a MAN is typically either owned by a user group or by a network provider who offers service to users.
  • It makes it easier to share local resources.
  • They offer uplinks to connect LANs to WANs and the Internet.

Example of MAN

  • Cable TV network
  • Telephone networks providing high-speed DSL lines
  • IEEE 802.16 or WiMAX, that provides high-speed broadband access with Internet connectivity to customer premises.

What is WAN?


WAN stands for “Wide Area Network.” It essentially covers enormous territories, however it could remain contained inside the borders of a state or a nation. A WAN can also be created by connecting many LANs. Both radio waves and phone lines may be used to connect them. A WAN normally is only accessible to businesses (organizations or corporations), while it may sometimes be open to the general public. It is equipped with pricey and rather fast technologies.

WANs can be divided into two categories: point-to-point and switched. A WAN is extremely challenging to both construct and maintain. Like MAN, the fault tolerance is likewise quite low, which increases network congestion. The Public Switched Telephone Network or Satellite Link is the communication channel used for WAN (PSTN). In a WAN, the standard long-distance transmission causes a higher error and voice level.

A WAN’s data rate is about ten times slower than a LAN’s in terms of speed. It does so because it travels a greater distance and has more terminals, servers, etc. A WAN can transmit data at speeds ranging from a few Kbps (Kilobits per second) to Mbps (Megabits per second). The propagation delay is one of the greatest problems that WAN has to deal with. Satellites, microwaves, and optical fibers are just a few of the gadgets that facilitate data transmission across WAN. A Point-to-Point WAN is something like the dial-up line that connects any home computer to the Internet. The ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) Network is one type of switched wide area network.

Features of WAN (Wide Area Network)

  • WAN often covers an entire nation.
  • WAN connects many urban areas and national boundaries, facilitating simple communication.
  • It might be totally contained within a state or a nation, or it might be connected to other things all across the world.
  • It consists of a number of computers running user apps. We will refer to these devices by their conventional names.
  • WAN users are able to communicate with one another utilizing leased telephone lines, satellite links, and other similar technologies.

Example of WAN

Example of a business using a WAN is a bank, complete with branch locations and ATMs. The branches may be spread throughout several states in the Nigeria or even abroad, but they are all connected via various secure links. Users include both customers and bank workers.

Key Differences Between LAN, MAN and WAN

  • WAN covers the largest geographic area, while MAN covers a somewhat wide area and LAN covers a minor amount.
  • WAN covers a country or a set of countries, whereas MAN connects small towns or Cities. LAN is limited to schools, hospitals, or other structures.
  • Devices for data transfer include:
    • LAN: Ethernet cables and WiFi.
    • MAN: Wire/Cable and Modem
    • WAN: Satellites, microwaves, and optical cables.
  • In comparison to MAN and WAN, LANs transmit data more quickly.
  • LAN maintenance is simpler than MAN and WAN maintenance.
  • In comparison to MAN and WAN, the transmission bandwidth available in LAN is higher.
  • Errors and noise in data transmission are lowest in LAN, intermediate in MAN, and highest in WAN.


LANs have many benefits over MAN and WAN, including high data transmission rates, outstanding dependability, ease of management, and the ability to share peripheral devices.

Cities and towns cannot be covered by a local area network, hence a metropolitan area network is required, which can connect a city or a collection of cities. A wide area network is also needed for connecting a country or a group of countries.