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Metropolitan area network

Metropolitan area network

(also MAN)

MAN definition

A metropolitan area network (MAN) is a network connecting local area networks (LAN) in a confined geographic area, typically a city. MANs are different from wide area networks (WAN), which are usually larger and not limited to any one location. The smaller operational area of MANs also makes them faster than WANs.

The word “metropolitan” in “metropolitan area network” refers to the size and not necessarily the coverage of the network — MANs can also be established in countryside areas, individual city blocks, or even across multiple population centers.

See also: local area connection, virtual switch, digital switch

How do MANs work?

The majority of MANs connect LANs together using fiber optic cables — typically “dark fiber“ (formerly unused fiber optic cables capable of carrying traffic) leased from private internet service providers (ISP) or the municipal authorities. Unlike WANs, which are usually managed by a single entity, MANs may combine the networks of multiple organizations.

Real MAN examples

  • Cable TV: Cable TV networks use high-speed MANs to stream digital TV services to customers in a metropolitan area.
  • Educational institutions: Schools, colleges, and universities may use MANs to connect separate campuses spread across a single geographical area. However, if the facilities are confined to a single campus, educational institutions prefer to use campus area networks (CAN) due to better speed and security.
  • Government facilities: Both national and municipal authorities may use MANs to connect their departments and facilities within a metropolitan area.

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