Everyone has heard of LANs, WANs, and VPNs, which are some of the types of telecommunication networks. The various acronyms can be confusing. How are these networks differentiated from each other? Why would a business need one as opposed to another? Examining the types of telecommunication networks will bring clarity to these questions.

Telecommunications networks are systems that enable analog or digital information to be sent to different locations using electromagnetic or optical signals. The information could be in the form of a document, graphic, audio, video, or other type of file. The network is connected by wires (or cables) or it could be wireless. One of the most popular networks that has existed for many years is the wired telephone system. Later, cable TV was added to the communications field, and currently, the internet is the most common way of sharing data.

Basic Types of Telecommunication Networks

The types of telecommunication networks can be simplified to six basic types: LAN, MAN, WAN, wireless, internet, and virtual private networks (VPN), although variations of these six types exist. All these have their specific purpose, advantages and disadvantages, and businesses use a combination of these six basic types.

  • Local Area Network: The local area network (LAN) covers a small area such as a business in one location, a home, or a school. The computers in the network share devices such as printers, a shared hard drive, and scanners. These are private networks that are not governed by any regulations. Some LANs operate over a single server that is connected to a small number of client computers.

Because software resides on the server, the technicians deal only with one location on the server if there is a problem or need for an upgrade, instead of having to deal with each computer on the network. A LAN also eliminates communication delays since the information is in-house. Data from individual clients such as customer details could be updated and shared immediately. The LAN can access a single internet connection, saving the company some financial resources.

Some of the disadvantages of a LAN are the high set-up costs, and the need for an administrator who has access to all data files. Cybercriminals can also access this data once they breach the security system and the network is confined to one location, usually administered by one entity.

  • Metropolitan Area Network: Just as the name suggests, the metropolitan area network (MAN) covers a city and operates much like the LAN. The network can connect several LANs or operate through a single cable. Since the MAN runs through cable or fiber optics, the communication speed is increased. Several disadvantages are that more cable is required than for a LAN, and it is difficult to ensure security from hackers
  • Wide Area Network: Wide area networks (WAN) can exist as a private or public entity. It covers large areas over vast distances, such as states or countries. The communication is maintained through satellite and public phone networks.

With a WAN, it is possible to share software, resources, and devices such as printers. The communication is rapid and all users can share information. However, the system can be expensive to set up and requires highly skilled staff to maintain and secure.

  • Wireless Networks: There are three basic types of wireless networks – system interconnection, wireless LANs, and wireless WANs.
    1. System Interconnection: Known as Bluetooth, this very local type of connection connects links a mouse, keyboard or printer through short-range radio technology.
    2. Wireless LANs: Each computer is equipped with a radio modem and antennae to communicate over a local area. While the cost of cabling is saved, significant security issues often require dedication in using strong passwords and vigilance in watching against intrusion.
    3. Wireless WANs: A prime example of a wireless WAN is the radio network used for cell phones. The same considerations for a wireless LAN also exist for a wireless WAN.
  • Internet: The joining of various networks through routers, gateways, and bridges comprises the backbone of the internet. Since most communication for these modern days involves the internet, this channel is the most vulnerable to common security issues such as password hacks, viruses, denial of service, ransomware and many other security-related problems.
  • Virtual Private Network: Users can send and receive data across all networks as if they were connected to a virtual private network (VPN). Devices enjoy the benefits of functionality, security, and management of the private system, using the safety of encryption and with the data being sent anonymously. To the user, it has the look and feel of a WAN, but the security is enhanced. Many businesses are adopting this type of network as one of the security protocols in running their enterprises.

While the types of telecommunication networks can be explained simply, telecommunications network design and setup are highly complex. Since it is imperative that you devote your resources to running your core business, it makes sense to engage a networking specialist to set up your networks. One of the newest methods is to use artificial intelligence to manage your network. “A business-first networking model will be powered by a self-driving wide area network (WAN) platform that uses automation and machine learning to implement high-level business intent, and will continuously learn and adapt to ensure the network just works,” NetworkWorld predicted for 2019.

The professional firm that maintains your network will also monitor and respond to threats on all of the types of telecommunication networks. Should you need to expand your telecommunications network, it is wise to contact experts in the field to implement the appropriate and secure telecommunications network for your business.

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