Difference Between LAN, WAN and MAN

In this tutorial, we are going over data communication technologies: LAN, WAN, and MAN. So, these are the three main data communication technologies that we are currently using in our modern communication network system. Basically, these technologies cover the communication distance between 100 and 1000 meters or above. In this article, we will describe the main differences between LAN, WAN, and MAN as well as the basics of these three technologies, such as their IP addresses, MAC addresses, TCP protocols, ARP protocols, and their network devices, such as their router, bridge, switch, firewall, gateway, etc. We can see the simple figures of these three technologies below.

Communication Networks
LAN, WAN and MAN Network Systems

Introduction to LAN

The word LAN stands for local area network. Because its uses include a small area network system mainly for small offices, homes, or nearby buildings to connect their computers with each other. 10 to 100 users could easily share their data with each other at the same time without any interruption.

Beside this, data resources such as printers, hard disks, modems, etc. are also sharable from one computer to another through this LAN system. In this condition, when one computer connects with another computer, such as 10 to 100, this computer acts as a controller. This controller unit controls all of the data. Hence, this controller unit connects with other units through a LAN cable. These include twisted pairs of cable (coaxial cable, etc.),  wireless, or a combination of both.

Initially, the design of this system was capable of sending data at 108 bits per second. But later on, with adequate advancements and development, the system is now capable of sending data rates ranging from 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, and 1 Gbps. A simple hotel local area network system is present in the figure below.

Hostel LAN system
A Simple Hotel LAN System

Thus, here we will describe this LAN system with a simple example for the reader’s understanding. In this figure, PMS is the power management system. Because it connects with other units through a cable, it acts as a controller unit. It controls the other units or devices, such as the electronic locking system, call accounting system, energy management system, etc. The execution or de-execution of all the instructions is via this control unit.

Introduction to WAN

The word WAN stands for wide area network system. It is a larger area network system whose implementation is normally at the country level or state level. This system is mostly useful for two purposes: sending or receiving data as well as using voice. But, for installing this WAN system, a typical router is the basic requirement for making the connection from LAN to WAN. So many examples of WAN systems are available, but the best example is the internet in the whole country, because it connects the LAN and MAN with the help of ISPs. We can see a simple WAN system in the figure below.

WAN system
WAN System

Introduction to MAN

The word MAN stands for metropolitan area network. Basically, it is the type of network that has a higher data transfer rate and a greater coverage area. But this data rate and coverage area are greater than LAN but less than WAN.

The most famous example of this metropolitan area network is the installation of the TV cable system locally at house level. In this system, the cable company receives the TV channel from satellite and then sends it to each house through coaxial cable.

Difference Between LAN, WAN & MAN

Here we shell describe the main difference between LAN,WAN and MAN with the help of table,




LAN is the abbreviation of  local area network


WAN is the abbreviation of  wide area network


MAN is the abbreviation of metropolitan network





What is it?

It is a type of networking system in which systems are very close to each other. This system is normally in a single office, building, or home. Every single organization or company has a lot of LAN connections.This is the type of networking system that has a large number of connections, and these connect with different companies or organizations at the same time.It is a type of networking system in which two or more LANs connect with each other. It is situated in a large geographical area.

Operational Speed

Its operational speed is normally between 10 and 1000 Mbps.Its operation speed is normally 100 Mbps.Its operational speed is normally 1.5 Mbps, and it may vary on a wireless network.

Operational Mediums

The operational mediums that LAN technology uses for data transfer or browsing are mostly optical fiber cable, wireless, etc., and their installations are normally local.The operational medium that a WAN system uses is mostly common carrier fiber optical cable. These cables are locally installed.The mediums that MAN technology uses are mostly coaxial cables and fiber optical cables. The medium could be wireless or cellular.

Distance Range

This distance, which LAN technology can cover, is up to 2 miles.


The distance that WAN technology can cover is normally up to 100 miles, and most installations are in schools, offices, etc.The distance that MAN technology can cover has no limits. That is, the installation of the repeater can easily extend the distance range. Its installation is mostly in large-area networking places, such as countries or the world.
BandwidthIts bandwidth is high.Its bandwidth is low.Its bandwidth is moderate.
Propagation DelayLAN propagation delay is short.WAN propagation delay is long.MAN propagation delay is moderate.
Maintenance and DesignThe design and maintenance of a LAN system are very easy as compared to WAN and MAN.The design and maintenance of WAN system is difficult.The design and maintenance of MAN system is difficult.
CostThis system is not so costly in comparison to WAN and MAN.This system is a little bit more costly in comparison to LAN.This is a cost-effective system compared to LAN and WAN. .
Ownership This system could be installed privately.This system could be installed privately, publicly,  or leased.This system could be installed  privately , or publicly.
Congestion It is easy and less congested as compared to WAN and MAN.This system is less easy and more congested as compared to LAN.This system is less easy and more congested as compared to LAN and WAN.
Different ApplicationsA LAN system is mostly used on desktop computers, laptops, etc. Currently, its uses in smart phones include considering emergency conditions in WLAN network systems.This WAN system is mainly used on mine and desktop computers.This MAN system could be used on any device, but on desktop devices, it is commonly used for networking purposes.
Tolerance during Fault ConditionA LAN system provides more tolerance during any fault condition.The WAN system provides less tolerance during any fault condition.MAN system provides less tolerance during any fault condition.


In conclusion, this tutorial provides an in-depth overview of three types of communication systems. Basically, it covers the introduction of LAN, WAN, and MAN communication systems along with their basic properties. At last, we discuss the differences between these three communication systems to help us better understand the concept. Hopefully, this was helpful in expanding your knowledge.

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