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January 29, 2022updated 26 Jan 2023 11:35am

What is a network?

By James Nunns

A network is a group of interconnected devices that can communicate with each other to exchange information and resources. There are various types, each with its own characteristics and uses.

Image: Shutterstock

What types of networks are there?

Local Area Networks (LANs)

LANs are used to connect devices in a small geographic area, such as a home or office. They allow devices to share resources, such as printers and files, and can be connected to the internet to provide internet access to all devices on the network.

Wide Area Networks (WANs)

WANs are used to connect devices over a larger geographic area, such as a city or country. These are often used by businesses to connect their offices in different locations. WANs can be connected through various means, including leased lines, satellite and the internet.

Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs)

MANs are used to connect devices in a metropolitan area, such as a city. These are larger than LANs but smaller than WANs and are often used by service providers to offer internet access to customers.

Wireless Networks

These allow devices to connect to each other and access the internet using wireless technology, such as Wi-Fi. Wireless networks are convenient because they do not require physical cables to connect devices.

Personal Area Networks (PANs)

PANs are used to connect devices that are near each other, such as a computer and printer. These are often used to share resources and communicate across short distances.

Cloud Networks

Cloud networks are used to connect devices to servers that are accessed over the internet. These allow users to access resources and data from anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud technology has become an increasingly important part of the tech sector in recent years, with companies including Amazon (AWS), Google and Oracle all investing heavily in cloud computing.

Who are some of the major networking vendors?

There are many companies that offer networking products and solutions. Some of the major networking vendors include:

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Cisco Systems

Cisco is a leading provider of networking equipment and solutions for businesses and organisations. The company offers a wide range of products, including routers, switches, and security solutions.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is Amazon’s market-leading cloud computing service and one of the first companies to enter the field. It offers pay-as-you-go cloud computing services or organisations including Twitch, BBC and Netflix.

Huawei

Huawei is a Chinese multinational technology company that offers a range of networking products. The firm invests heavily in upgrading countries’ telecoms services, increasingly in the global south, but has become the subject of controversy in the UK due to cybersecurity risks stemming from Huawei’s links to the Chinese state.

The author generated this text in part with GPT-3, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model. Upon generating draft language, the author reviewed, edited, and revised the language to their own liking and takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication.

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