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Difference between LAN MAN and WAN | LAN vs MAN vs WAN

This page on the difference between LAN MAN and WAN compares LAN vs MAN vs WAN and derives tabular difference between them.Full forms of LAN, MAN and WAN are also mentioned.

This tutorial covers everything one like to know about networking basics including circuit switching vs packet switching, TCP/IP protocol fields, ARP/RARP protocol fields, what is IP address ,what is MAC address, networking devices which include hub, switch, bridge, router, gateway and firewall.

LAN MAN WAN Network Types

LAN stands for Local Area Network, WAN stands for Wide Area Network and MAN stands for Metropolitan Area Network. All the technologies are mainly used for data communication. Covers distance upto 100-1000meters. The figure-1 below depicts all the three network topologies viz. LAN, MAN and WAN.


LAN has smaller coverage range within the house or office premises or can at least connect from one building to the nearby building. Most of the LANs usually will have about 10 to 100 users. Multiple users in LAN time share the system. LAN has been developed to allow sharing of common resource such as printer,harddisk and modem to more than one PCs. In this scenario PC connected with common resource is called as controller through which all the users will access the resource. As the days evolve people started using LAN for e-mail system for corporate network, here one system is configured as server storing mail boxes of all the users.

Latest advancement in the LAN technology supports data rates which range from 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps till 1Gbps. LAN is designed initially as per 802 standards, later various wireless standards are evolved such as IEEE 802.11a, 11b, 11g and 11n. Currently research is to finalize products supporting IEEE 802.11ac and 802.11ad supporting very high data rates.


CAN stands for Campus Area Network. It is network composed of multiple inter-connected LAN in limited coverage area. CAN network type is smaller in comparison with MAN and WAN as described below.

Examples of CAN based network:
• SUNet network of Stanford University
• Project Athena of MIT

It has following benefits:
• It is cost effective.
• It enables multi-department network access
• It supports single and shared data transfer


WAN has coverage larger than LAN and mainly used for cellular applications supporting both voice and data applications. Larger network covering entire country or state is referred as WANs. Most WANs are telephone systems. Various technologies are existing to support WAN such as WiMAX, GSM, CDMA, HSPA, LTE, fiber optics, ATM and more. Covers distance upto 1000-10 kilo-meters and also goes upto 100km.


MAN occupies coverage in between LANs and WANs. MAN has distance coverage and data rate higher than LAN, but less than WAN. This is the major difference between LAN and MAN. MAN overlaps to some extent to geographical coverage requirement of WAN. A typical example of MAN is Local Cable TV system. Here cable TV company picks up programs from satellite and delivers to individual homes via coaxial cable. Each home is a node in this network of nodes.

Tabular difference between LAN MAN and WAN

Following table compares LAN vs MAN vs WAN with respect to various networking parameters and mentions difference between LAN MAN and WAN in tabular form.

Parameters LAN MAN WAN
Full Form Local Area Network Metropolitan Area Network Wide Area Network
What is it? • Systems are close to each other in LAN
• contained in one office or building
• one organization can have several LANs
• Large network which connects different organizations • Two or more LANs connected
• Located over large geographical area
Limited coverage, about upto 2 miles(or 2500 meters) Limited coverage, about upto 100 miles(or 200 km) Unlimited (usually in 1000Km) range, uses repeater and other connectivity for range extension
Speed of
High, typically 10, 100 and 1000 Mbps High, typically 100 Mbps Slow, about 1.5 Mbps (May vary based on wireless technologies used)
used for medium
Locally installed, twisted pair, fiber optic cable, wireless (e.g. WLAN, Zigbee) Locally installed and based on common carrier e.g. twisted pair, fiber optic cable etc. Locally installed and based on common carrier e.g. twisted pair wires, fiber, coaxial cable, wireless including wireless and cellular network based
Applications Used mainly by fixed desktop computers and portable computers (e.g. laptops) . Now-a-days it is used by smart phones due to emergence of WLAN network Used mainly by desktop and mini computers. Can be used by any devices, but desktop devices are mainly using this network type.

Networking Links

• Circuit Switching vs Packet switching   • Packet Switching vs Message switching   • What is an IP address   • What is MAC Address   • Basics of OSI and TCP-IP Layers   • What is Hub   • What is Switch   • What is Bridge   • What is Router   • What is Gateway   • Firewall basics   • TCP-IP Packet format   • ARP Protocol format  

What is Difference between

FTP vs HTTP  FTP vs SMTP  FTP vs TFTP  hub Vs. switch  TCP vs UDP 

RF and Wireless Terminologies

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