From the local network you’re probably using to read this article to the entirety of the internet, you’re surrounded by computer networks wherever you go.

A computer network connects at least two computer systems using a medium. Sharing the same connection protocols, the computers within such networks can communicate with each other and exchange data, resources, and applications.

In an increasingly technological world, several types of computer network have become the thread that binds modern society. They differ in size (geographic area or the number of computers), purpose, and connection modes (wired or wireless). But they all have one thing in common: they’ve fueled the communication revolution worldwide.

This article will explore the intricacies of these different network types, delving into their features, advantages, and disadvantages.

Local Area Network (LAN)

Local Area Network (LAN) is a widely used computer network type that covers the smallest geographical area (a few miles) among the three main types of computer network (LAN, MAN, and WAN).

A LAN usually relies on wired connections since they are faster than their wireless counterparts. With a LAN, you don’t have to worry about external regulatory oversight. A LAN is a privately owned network.

Looking into the infrastructure of a LAN, you’ll typically find several devices (switches, routers, adapters, etc.), many network cables (Ethernet, fiber optic, etc.), and specific internet protocols (Ethernet, TCP/IP, Wi-Fi, etc.).

As with all types of computer network, a LAN has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages.

Users who opt for a LAN usually do so due to the following reasons:

  • Setting up and managing a LAN is easy.
  • A LAN provides fast data and message transfer.
  • Even inexpensive hardware (hard disks, DVD-ROMs, etc.) can share a LAN.
  • A LAN is more secure and offers increased fault tolerance than a WAN.
  • All LAN users can share a single internet connection.

As for the drawbacks, these are some of the more concerning ones:

  • A LAN is highly limited in geographical coverage. (Any growth requires costly infrastructure upgrades.)
  • As more users connect to the network, it might get congested.
  • A LAN doesn’t offer a high degree of privacy. (The admin can see the data files of each user.)

Regardless of these disadvantages, many people worldwide use a LAN. In computer networks, no other type is as prevalent. Look at virtually any home, office building, school, laboratory, hospital, and similar facilities, and you’ll probably spot a LAN.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

Do you want to experience a Wide Area Network (WAN) firsthand? Since you’re reading this article, you’ve already done so. That’s right. The internet is one of the biggest WANs in the world.

So, it goes without saying that a WAN is a computer network that spans a large geographical area. Of course, the internet is an outstanding example; most WANs are confined within the borders of a country or even limited to an enterprise.

Considering that a WAN needs to cover a considerable distance, it isn’t surprising it relies on connections like satellite links to transmit the data. Other components of a WAN include standard network devices (routers, modems, etc.) and network protocols (TCP/IP, MPLS, etc.).

The ability of a WAN to cover a large geographical area is one of its most significant advantages. But it’s certainly not the only one.

  • A WAN offers remote access to shared software and other resources.
  • Numerous users and applications can use a WAN simultaneously.
  • A WAN facilitates easy communication between computers within the same network.
  • With WAN, all data is centralized (no need to purchase separate backup servers, emails, etc.).

Of course, as with other types of computer network, there are some disadvantages to note.

  • Setting up and maintaining a WAN is costly and challenging.
  • Due to the higher distance, there can be some issues with the slower data transfer and delays.
  • The use of multiple technologies can create security issues for the network. (A firewall, antivirus software, and other preventative security measures are a must.)

By now, you probably won’t be surprised that the most common uses of a WAN are dictated by its impressive size.

You’ll typically find WANs connecting multiple LANs, branches of the same institution (government, business, finance, education, etc.), and the residents of a city or a country (public networks, mobile broadband, fiber internet services, etc.).

Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

A Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) interconnects different LANs to cover a larger geographical area (usually a town or a city). To put this into perspective, a MAN covers more than a LAN but less than a WAN.

A MAN offers high-speed connectivity and mainly relies on optical fibers. “Moderate” is the word that best describes a MAN’s data transfer rate and propagation delay.

You’ll need standard network devices like routers and switches to establish this network. As for transmission media, a MAN primarily relies on fiber optic cables and microwave links. The last component to consider is network protocols, which are also pretty standard (TCP/IP, Ethernet, etc.)

There are several reasons why internet users opt for a MAN in computer networks:

  • A MAN can be used as an Internet Service Provider (ISP).
  • Through a MAN, you can gain greater access to WANs.
  • A dual connectivity bus allows simultaneous data transfer both ways.

Unfortunately, this network type isn’t without its flaws.

  • A MAN can be expensive to set up and maintain. (For instance, it requires numerous cables.)
  • The more users use a MAN, the more congestion and performance issues can ensue.
  • Ensuring cybersecurity on this network is no easy task.

Despite these disadvantages, many government agencies fully trust MANs to connect to the citizens and private industries. The same goes for public services like high-speed DSL lines and cable TV networks within a city.

Personal Area Network (PAN)

The name of this network type will probably hint at how this network operates right away. In other words, a Personal Area Network (PAN) is a computer network centered around a single person. As such, it typically connects a person’s personal devices (computer, mobile phone, tablet, etc.) to the internet or a digital network.

With such focused use, geographical limits shouldn’t be surprising. A PAN covers only about 33 feet of area. To expand the reach of this low-range network, users employ wireless technologies (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc.)

With these network connections and the personal devices that use the network out of the way, the only remaining components of a PAN are the network protocols it uses (TCP/IP, Bluetooth, etc.).

Users create these handy networks primarily due to their convenience. Easy setup, straightforward communications, no wires or cables … what’s not to like? Throw energy efficiency into the mix, and you’ll understand the appeal of PANs.

Of course, something as quick and easy as a PAN doesn’t go hand in hand with large-scale data transfers. Considering the limited coverage area and bandwidth, you can bid farewell to high-speed communication and handling large amounts of data.

Then again, look at the most common uses of PANs, and you’ll see that these are hardly needed. PANs come in handy for connecting personal devices, establishing an offline network at home, and connecting devices (cameras, locks, speakers, etc.) within a smart home setup.

Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)

You’ll notice only one letter difference between WLAN and LAN. This means that this network operates similarly to a LAN, but the “W” indicates that it does so wirelessly. It extends the LAN’s reach, making a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) ideal for users who hate dealing with cables yet want a speedy and reliable network.

A WLAN owes its seamless operation to network connections like radio frequency and Wi-Fi. Other components that you should know about include network devices (wireless routers, access points, etc.) and network protocols (TCP/IP, Wi-Fi, etc.).

Flexible. Reliable. Robust. Mobile. Simple. Those are just some adjectives that accurately describe WLANs and make them such an appealing network type.

Of course, there are also a few disadvantages to note, especially when comparing WLANs to LANs.

WLANs offer less capacity, security, and quality than their wired counterparts. They’re also more expensive to install and vulnerable to various interferences (physical objects obstructing the signal, other WLAN networks, electronic devices, etc.).

Like LANs, you will likely see WLANs in households, office buildings, schools, and similar locations.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

If you’re an avid internet user, you’ve probably encountered this scenario: you want to use public Wi-Fi but fear the consequences and stream specific content. Or this one may be familiar: you want to use apps, but they’re unavailable in your country. The solution for both cases is a VPN.

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN for short, uses tunneling protocols to create a private network over a less secure public network. You’ll probably have to pay to access a premium virtual connection, but this investment is well worth it.

A VPN provider typically offers servers worldwide, each a valuable component of a VPN. Besides the encrypted tunneling protocols, some VPNs use the internet itself to establish a private connection. As for network protocols, you’ll mostly see TCP/IP, SSL, and similar types.

The importance of security and privacy on the internet can’t be understated. So, a VPN’s ability to offer you these is undoubtedly its biggest advantage. Users are also fond of VPNs for unlocking geo-blocked content and eliminating pesky targeted ads.

Following in the footsteps of other types of computer network, a VPN also has a few notable flaws. Not all devices will support this network. Even when they do, privacy and security aren’t 100% guaranteed. Just think of how fast new cybersecurity threats emerge, and you’ll understand why.

Of course, these downsides don’t prevent numerous users from reaching for VPNs to secure remote access to the internet or gain access to apps hosted on proprietary networks. Users also use these networks to bypass censorship in their country or browse the internet anonymously.

Connecting Beyond Boundaries

Whether running a global corporation or wanting to connect your smartphone to the internet, there’s a perfect network among the above-mentioned types of computer network. Understanding the unique features of each network and their specific advantages and disadvantages will help you make the right choice and enjoy seamless connections wherever you are. Compare the facts from this guide to your specific needs, and you’ll pick the perfect network every time.

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Il Sole 24 Ore: 100 thousand IT professionals missing
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
May 14, 2024 6 min read

Written on April 24th 2024

Source here: Il Sole 24 Ore (full article in Italian)

Open Institute of Technology: 100 thousand IT professionals missing

Eurostat data processed and disseminated by OPIT. Stem disciplines: the share of graduates in Italy between the ages of 20 and 29 is 18.3%, compared to the European 21.9%

Today, only 29% of young Italians between 25 and 34 have a degree. Not only that: compared to other European countries, the comparison is unequal given that the average in the Old Continent is 46%, bringing Italy to the penultimate place in this ranking, ahead only of Romania. The gap is evident even if the comparison is limited to STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) where the share of graduates in Italy between the ages of 20 and 29 is 18.3%, compared to the European 21.9%, with peaks of virtuosity which in the case of France that reaches 29.2%. Added to this is the continuing problem of the mismatch between job supply and demand, so much so that 62.8% of companies struggle to find professionals in the technological and IT fields.

The data

The Eurostat data was processed and disseminated by OPIT – Open Institute of Technology. an academic institution accredited at European level, active in the university level education market with online Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the technological and digital fields. We are therefore witnessing a phenomenon with worrying implications on the future of the job market in Italy and on the potential loss of competitiveness of our companies at a global level, especially if inserted in a context in which the macroeconomic scenario in the coming years will undergo a profound discontinuity linked to the arrival of “exponential” technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and robotics, but also to the growing threats related to cybersecurity.

Requirements and updates

According to European House Ambrosetti, over 2,000,000 professionals will have to update their skills in the Digital and IT area by 2026, also to take advantage of the current 100,000 vacant IT positions, as estimated by Frank Recruitment Group. But not only that: the Italian context, which is unfavorable for providing the job market with graduates and skills, also has its roots in the chronic birth rate that characterizes our country: according to ISTAT data, in recent years the number of newborns has fallen by 28%, bringing Italy’s birth rate to 1.24, among the lowest in Europe, where the average is 1.46.

Profumo: “Structural deficiency”

“The chronic problem of the absence of IT professionals is structural and of a dual nature: on one hand the number of newborns – therefore, potential “professionals of the future” – is constantly decreasing; on the other hand, the percentage of young people who acquires degrees are firmly among the lowest in Europe”, declared Francesco Profumo, former Minister of Education and rector of OPIT – Open Institute of Technology. “The reasons are varied: from the cost of education (especially if undertaken off-site), to a university offering that is poorly aligned with changes in society, to a lack of awareness and orientation towards STEM subjects, which guarantee the highest employment rates. Change necessarily involves strong investments in the university system (and, in general, in the education system) at the level of the country, starting from the awareness that a functioning education system is the main driver of growth and development in the medium to long term. It is a debated and discussed topic on which, however, a clear and ambitious position is never taken.”

Stagnant context and educational offer

In this stagnant context, the educational offer that comes from online universities increasingly meets the needs of flexibility, quality and cost of recently graduated students, university students looking for specialization and workers interested in updating themselves with innovative skills. According to data from the Ministry of University and Research, enrollments in accredited online universities in Italy have grown by over 141 thousand units in ten years (since 2011), equal to 293.9%. Added to these are the academic institutions accredited at European level, such as OPIT, whose educational offering is overall capable of opening the doors to hundreds of thousands of students, with affordable costs and extremely innovative and updated degree paths.

Analyzing the figures

An analysis of Eurostat statistics relating to the year 2021 highlights that 27% of Europeans aged between 16 and 74 have attended an entirely digital course. The highest share is recorded in Ireland (46%), Finland and Sweden (45%) and the Netherlands (44%). The lowest in Romania (10%), Bulgaria (12%) and Croatia (18%). Italy is at 20%. “With OPIT” – adds Riccardo Ocleppo, founder and director – “we have created a new model of online academic institution, oriented towards new technologies, with innovative programs, a strong practical focus, and an international approach, with professors and students from 38 countries around the world, and teaching in English. We intend to train Italian students not only on current and updated skills, but to prepare them for an increasingly dynamic and global job market. Our young people must be able to face the challenges of the future like those who study at Stanford or Oxford: with solid skills, but also with relational and attitudinal skills that lead them to create global companies and startups or work in multinationals like their international colleagues. The increasing online teaching offer, if well structured and with quality, represents an incredible form of democratization of education, making it accessible at low costs and with methods that adapt to the flexibility needs of many working students.”

Point of reference

With two degrees already starting in September 2023 – a three-year degree (BSc) in Modern Computer Science and a specialization (MSc) in Applied Data Science & AI – and 4 starting in September 2024: a three-year degree (BSc) in Digital Business, and the specializations (MSc) in Enterprise Cybersecurity, Applied Digital Business and Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI), OPIT is an academic institution of reference for those who intend to respond to the demands of a job market increasingly oriented towards the field of artificial intelligence. Added to this are a high-profile international teaching staff and an exclusively online educational offer focused on the technological and digital fields.

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Times of India: The 600,000 IT job shortage in India and how to solve it
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
May 2, 2024 3 min read

Written on April 25th 2024

Source here: Times of India 

The job market has never been a straightforward path. Ask anyone who has ever looked for a job, certainly within the last decade, and they can tell you as much. But with the rapid development of AI and machine learning, concerns are growing for people about their career options, with a report from Randstad finding that 7 in 10 people in India are concerned about their job being eliminated by AI.

 Employers have their own share of concerns. According to The World Economic Forum, 97 million new AI-related jobs will be created by 2025 and the share of jobs requiring AI skills will increase by 58%. The IT industry in India is experiencing a tremendous surge in demand for skilled professionals on disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, cybersecurity and, according to Nasscom, this is leading to a shortage of 600,000 profiles.

 So how do we fill those gaps? Can we democratize access to top-tier higher education in technology?

These are the questions that Riccardo Ocleppo, the engineer who founded a hugely successful ed-tech platform connecting international students with global Universities, Docsity, asked himself for years. Until he took action and launched the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), together with the Former Minister of Education of Italy, Prof. Francesco Profumo, to help people take control of their future careers.

OPIT offers BSc and MSc degrees in Computer Science, AI, Data Science, Cybersecurity, and Digital Business, attracting students from over 38 countries worldwide. Through innovative learning experiences and affordable tuition fees starting at €4,050 per year, OPIT empowers students to pursue their educational goals without the financial and personal burden of relocating.

The curriculum, delivered through a mix of live and pre-recorded lectures, equips students with the latest technology skills, as well as business and strategic acumen necessary for careers in their chosen fields. Moreover, OPIT’s EU-accredited degrees enable graduates to pursue employment opportunities in Europe, with recognition by WES facilitating transferability to the US and Canada.

OPIT’s commitment to student success extends beyond academics, with a full-fledged career services department led by Mike McCulloch. Remote students benefit from OPIT’s “digital campus,” fostering connections through vibrant discussion forums, online events, and networking opportunities with leading experts and professors.

Faculty at OPIT, hailing from prestigious institutions and industry giants like Amazon and Microsoft, bring a wealth of academic and practical experience to the table. With a hands-on, practical teaching approach, OPIT prepares students for the dynamic challenges of the modern job market.

In conclusion, OPIT stands as a beacon of hope for individuals seeking to future-proof their careers in technology. By democratizing access to high-quality education and fostering a global learning community, OPIT empowers students to seize control of their futures and thrive in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

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