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

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

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?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

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.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371