Computer network is a system connecting two or more computers. A computer network allows
user to exchange data quickly, access and share resources including equipments, application software,
Data communications systems are the electronic systems that transmit data over communications
lines from one location to another. You might use data communications through your microcomputer
to send information to a friend using another computer. You might work for an organization whose
computer system is spread throughout a building, or even throughout the country or world. That is, all
the parts—input and output units, processor, and storage devices—are in different places and linked
by communications. Or you might use telecommunications lines—telephone lines—to tap into
information located in an outside data bank. You could then transmit it to your microcomputer for
your own reworking and analysis.
To attach to a network, a special-purpose hardware component is used to handle all the
transmission. The hardware is called a network adapter card or network interface card (NIC), it is
a printed circuit board plugged into a computer's bus, and a cable connects it to a network
Communications networks differ in geographical size. There are three important types:
LANs, MANs, and WANs.
Local Area Networks
Networks with computers and peripheral devices in close physical
proximity—within the same building, for instance—are called local area networks (LANs).
Linked by cable-telephone, coaxial, or fiber optic. LANs often use a bus form organization. In a
LAN, people can share different equipments, which lower the cost of equipments. LAN may be
linked to other LANs or to larger networks by using a network gateway. With the gateway, one
LAN may be connected to the LAN of another LAN of another office group. It may also be
connected to others in the wide world, even if their configurations are different. Alternatively, a
network bridge would be used to connect networks with the same configurations.
There is a newly development for LANs: WLAN. A wireless LAN (WLAN) is a flexible
data communication system implemented as an extension to, or as an alternative for, a wired
LAN within a building or campus. Using electromagnetic waves, WLANs transmit and receive
data over the air, minimizing the need for wired connections. Thus, WLANs combine data
connectivity with user mobility, and, through simplified configuration, enable movable LANs.
Over the recent several years, WLANs have gained strong popularity in a number of vertical
markets, including the health-care, retail, manufacturing, warehousing, and academic arenas.
These industries have profited from the productivity gains of using hand-held terminals and
notebook computers to transmit real-time information to centralized hosts for processing. Today
WLANs are becoming more widely recognized as a general-purpose connectivity alternative for
a broad range of business customers.
Applications for Wireless LANs Wireless LANs frequently augment rather than replace
wired LAN networks—often providing the final few meters of connectivity between a backbone
network and the mobile user. The following list describes some of the many applications made
possible through the power and flexibility of wireless LANs:
Doctors and nurses in hospitals are more productive because hand-held or notebook
computers with wireless LAN capability deliver patient information instantly.
Consulting or accounting audit engagement teams or small workgroups increase productivity
with quick network setup.
Network managers in dynamic environments minimize the overhead of moves, adds,
and changes with wireless LANs, thereby reducing the cost of LAN ownership.
Training sites at corporations and students at universities use wireless connectivity to
facilitate access to information, information exchanges, and learning.
Network managers installing networked computers in older buildings find that wireless
LANs are a cost-effective network infrastructure solution.
Retail store owners use wireless networks to simply frequent network reconfiguration.
Trade show and branch office workers minimize setup requirements by installing preconfigured
wireless LANs needing no local MIS support.
Warehouse workers use wireless LANs to exchange information with central databases and
increase their productivity.
Network managers implement wireless LANs to provide backup for mission-critical
applications running on wired networks.
Senior executives in conference rooms make quicker decisions because they have real-time
information at their fingertips.
The increasingly mobile user also becomes a clear candidate for a wireless LAN. Portable
access to wireless networks can be achieved using laptop computers and wireless NICs. This
enables the user to travel to various locations–meeting rooms, hallways, lobbies, cafeterias,
classrooms, etc.–and still have access to their networked data. Without wireless access, the user
would have to carry clumsy cabling and find a network tap to plug into.
Metropolitan Area Networks
These networks are used as links between office buildings in
a city. Cellular phone systems expand the flexibility of MAN by allowing links to car phones and
Wide Area Networks
Wide area networks are countrywide and worldwide networks.
Among other kinds of channels, they use microwave relays and satellites to reach users over long
distances. One of the most widely used WANs is Internet, which allows users to connect to other
users and facilities worldwide.