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An introduction to computers and computer systems
An introduction to computers and computer systems

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1.3 Local Area network (LAN)

A local area network (LAN) is a computer network that connects devices within a limited area such as a house, school, university or office. Ethernet and wi-fi are the two most common technologies used in LANs nowadays.

It is possible that an organisation is so big that it will have many LANs in its buildings.

Activity 1

Why might an organisation want more than one local area network?

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There are several possible answers. One very large network might not even be possible, because there are simply too many devices to connect. However, even if it is possible to connect many devices, large networks can be hard to manage. Typically networks will either match an organisation’s structure with one LAN per department, or match the buildings physical structure with one LAN per floor. There may be particular requirements too so that the additional security for departments handling sensitive information is easier to apply or laboratories generating large amounts of test data do not overload the normal business network.

Devices have a network interface card that allows them to connect to a LAN. The term ‘devices’ can include computers as well as specialised input devices, such as scanners, and output devices such as printers.