Difference between LAN and Wi-Fi

Key Difference: LAN stands for Local Area Network. It is a type of data communication network which is limited in geographic scope. In LAN, the devices communicate over a common communication channel (wired/wireless) allowing moderate data rates. Wi-Fi stands for "Wireless Fidelity." It allows computer and other devices to connect with the Internet in proximity of an access point. Wi-Fi belongs to the subcategory of the Wireless LANs. It is the name that is used to signify Wireless LAN product interoperability.

LAN stands for Local Area Network. It is a type of data communication network that connects computers within small areas like home, office, school, corporation, etc. using a network media. One of the important characteristics of a LAN environment is that all the stations on the network work as peers, which means that any station can initiate the process of data exchange. LAN works over a shared transmission medium like cabling. LAN consists of three important hardware elements –

  • A transmission medium
  • A control mechanism for the transmission over the medium
  • Interface for the network 

LAN is typically owned by an organization that uses it. It works best for relatively short distances and at relatively high bit-per-second rates. LANs have been very popular due to the flexibility they provide. The reasonable costing also plays a major role in implementing the networks. There are three basic physical topologies of LAN –

  • Ring – A loop like structure is formed comprising of computers and these cimoputers tak turns for communicating the message.
  • Bus – All devices are linked with a single transmission line by using a cable.
  • Star – All devices are connected to a central piece of hardware known as hub.

Wi-Fi stands for "Wireless Fidelity." It allows computer and other devices to connect with the Internet in proximity of an access point. It refers to the name of a brand which is licensed by the Wi-Fi Alliance. It denotes and describes the basic technology behind the wireless local area networks which are based on the IEEE 802.11 specifications. The technologies used by Wi-Fi are –

  • Single Carrier Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum Radio Technology
  • Multi-carrier Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing Radio Technology.

Wi-FI working – A Wi-Fi set includes one or more access points and clients. These access points broadcast the network name through packets. These packets are transmitted at a rate of 1 Mbit/s. The receiving client is this facility can communicate at the rate equivalent to at least 1Mbit/s. Transmission in a Wi-Fi takes place in the air, and therefore it possess the same properties as possessed by a non-switched Ethernet network. A wireless LAN is a type of LAN which uses Wi-Fi technology to connect the computers without using cables.

The difference between LAN and Wi-Fi is difficult to determine as WI-Fi falls in the category of wireless LAN.

Comparison between LAN and WIFI:

 

LAN

WIFI

Full form

Local Area Network

Wireless Fidelity

Definition

It is a type of data communication network which is limited in geographic scope. In LAN, the devices communicate over a physical communication channel allowing moderate data rates.

It allows computer and other devices to connect with the Internet in proximity of an access point. It refers to the name of a brand which is licensed by the Wi-Fi Alliance. It denotes and describes the basic technology behind the wireless local area networks which are based on the IEEE 802.11 specifications.

Benefits

  • Resources like hardware, files and softwares are easily shared
  • Flexibility
  • Security
  • Facility for centralized backups
  • Audit trails
  • Cost accounting
  • No need of wires to connect the devices
  • Easy creation of a mesh Wi-Fi
  • Technology is standardized and thus allows one to connect to the network in any country.

Type

Wired computers

Wireless computer

A type of wireless local area network (WLAN) that uses specifications conforming to IEEE 802.11b.

Mobility

Wired types of LAN require physical cables

No physical cables are required

Reliability

Wired types uses Ethernet cables and therefore are regarded more reliable

Comparatively less reliable than a wired LAN

Image Courtesy: excellgroup.com, tutorialspoint.com

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