Many organizations utilize traditional wire-based networking technologies to establish connections among computers. These technologies fall into the following three categories:
• Local area networks (LANs)
• Metropolitan area networks (MANs)
• Wide area networks (WANs)
LANs support the sharing of applications and printers, transfer of files, and sending e-mail within a room or building. Today, the industry standard for LANs is ethernet technology with 10baseT Category 5 twisted-pair wiring. MANs, which can cover the size of a college campus or large city, interconnect LANs by using protocols such as FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface) and depend on leased circuits and optical fiber for transmission of the data. WANs, on the other hand, utilize telephone circuits, leased lines, and private circuits to support worldwide networking by using circuit and packet switching protocols.
Traditional networking technologies offer tremendous capabilities from an office, hotel room, or home. Activities such as communicating via e-mail with someone located in a faraway town or conveniently accessing product information from the World Wide Web are the result of widespread networking. But, limitations to networking through the use of wire-based systems exist because you cannot utilize these network services unless you are physically connected to a LAN or a telephone connection.