A local-area network (LAN) is a computer network covering a small geographic area, like a home, office, or group of buildings e.g. a small office.


The defining characteristics of these LANs, in contrast to wide-area networks (WANs), include their much higher data-transfer rates, smaller geographic range, and lack of a need for leased telecommunication lines.

Technical aspects[]

Smaller LANs generally consist of a one or more switches linked to each other - often with one connected to a router, cable modem, or DSL modem for Internet access.

Larger LANs are characterized by their use of redundant links with switches using the spanning tree protocol to prevent loops, their ability to manage differing traffic types via quality of service (QoS), and to segregate traffic via VLANs.

Larger LANS also contain a wide variety of network devices such as switches, firewalls, routers, load balancers, sensors and so on.

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