Different Types of Communication Networks

by Dan Taylor; Updated September 26, 2017
Female hands working on the computer, cell phone

Modern society is dependent on communication networks to transmit information. These networks use a system of symbols, writing, signals or speech to share information, communicating via tools such as television sets, radios, phones and computers. Each network has specific purposes and uses.

Local Area Network

A local area network is a network of computers in a localized area, such as in an office or a school. All the computers are connected to each other through the LAN via a hub or a switch. A large number of computers drag down the speed of a LAN.

Wide Area Network

A wide-area network covers a large geographical area and usually consists of multiple computer networks. The Internet is a WAN that relies on a large global network of service providers who use routers, switches, modems and servers to provide connectivity to people and organizations around the world. It is a network of interconnected computers that carries data, media and Web pages.

Public Switched Network

The public switched network is essentially the telephone's version of the Internet. It is a network of public circuit-switched telephones. The network today is largely digital and includes services for both cellular and landline phones.


Telecommunication is the transmission of signals over a large distance, usually by electromagnetic waves. It is used for television, radio and telephones. Computer data transmission is also a form of telecommunication.

Wireless Networks

Wireless networks provided information transmission and network connectivity to devices without cables or wires. An example of a wireless network is broadcast radio, which sends data over long geographical distances and is available to anyone with a radio who knows the frequency. Wi-Fi is a wireless network for computers, which can access the network remotely. Bluetooth, which connects with a nearby mobile phone, is a shorter-range version of a wireless network, which supports transmission of voice and data but only at a distance of a few feet from the communication device with which it works.

Satellite Networks

Satellite networks come in a number of varieties. Phone companies use satellites for data and voice transmission to mobile phones on the ground. Some satellite networks provide navigation information, military surveillance or weather data. Still others provide television programming, radio broadcasts and even broadband Internet service.

About the Author

Based in the Washington, D.C., area, Dan Taylor has been a professional journalist since 2004. He has been published in the "Baltimore Sun" and "The Washington Times." He started as a reporter for a newspaper in southwest Virginia and now writes for "Inside the Navy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in government with a journalism track from Patrick Henry College.

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