This article deals with ‘ Networking (for UPSC).’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.


Networking consists of all the components (hardware & software) involved in connecting computers across small & large distances.


Types of Networks

1. Personal Area Network (PAN)

  • PAN is used to connect devices over a very short area (~10 metres) like a small room. 
  • Bluetooth is the example of a wireless PAN network while USB is the example of a wired PAN network.

2. Local Area Network (LAN)

  • LAN is used to connect devices that are geographically close like in the Home, Building, Campus etc.
  • They are designed to allow resource sharing. The shared resource can be hardware (like printer, database), software or data. 
  • LAN network maybe just two computers & printer or hundreds of interconnected computers. 
  • Mostly used LAN networks are Ethernet, Fast Ethernet (FE), Gigabit Ethernet etc. 

3. Wide Area Network (WAN)

  • WAN is used to connect devices that are geographically separated.

4. Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

  • MAN is a hybrid between LAN & WAN. 
  • Like WAN, MAN usually connects two LANs in the same geographical area with a range between 5 to 50 km. 
  • But WAN usually gives low to medium speed whereas MAN can give high speed up to 1.54 Mbps.
  • An example of MAN includes a telephone company network providing a high DSL line to the customer. 

5. Storage Area Network

  • It provides high-speed infra to move data between storage devices.
  • Fibre channels are used for connection (rate exceeding 1Gbps).

Methods to create Networks

Methods to create Network

1 . Bluetooth

  • Bluetooth derives its name from the Scandinavian king, Harald Bluetooth.
  • Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (up to 10 metres) from fixed and mobile devices by creating Personal Area Networks(PAN) with high levels of security. 
  • It uses radio technology. Hence, they don’t have to be in the visual line of sight. 
  • It provides a secure way to connect & exchange info between devices such as faxes, mobile, telephones, GPS, video game consoles etc.

2. Wi-Fi

  • Wi-Fi = Wireless Fidelity
  • Wi-Fi allows electronic devices to exchange data wirelessly using radio waves. 
  • Devices that use Wi-Fi can connect to a network resource such as the internet via a wireless network access point.
  • It has a range of 20 m. 
  • Wi-Fi can operate at 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz. 
  • Wi-Fi allows cheaper deployment of LANs especially in spaces where cables can’t be run (such as outdoor areas & historical buildings). 

Bluetooth vs Wireless

Similarity Some similar applications are setting up networks, printing or transferring files.
Intended use 1. Wi-Fi: Intended as a replacement for cabling for general local area network (LAN) access in work areas.
2. Bluetooth: Intended for portable equipment & its applications.
Range Wi-Fi uses the same radio frequency as Bluetooth but with a higher power, resulting in higher bit rates & better range. Hence the range of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are as follows
1. Wi-Fi – 100 m
2. Bluetooth – 10 m

3. Li-Fi

  • Li-Fi = Light Fidelity
  • It refers to using visible light waves (instead of Radio Waves) communication which delivers high speed and bidirectional network mobile communication like Wi-Fi.
  • It is presented as an eventual replacement for Wi-Fi transmitting internet using photons instead of radio waves to deliver data. 


  • Li-FI can achieve 1,000X speed that of Wi-Fi.
  • Spectrum is plentiful, free & unlicensed. 
  • Since photons cant penetrates walls hence won’t work out of sight but has the advantage of additional privacy.
  • It can be used in aircraft cabins, petroleum plants, hospitals and nuclear power plants without causing electromagnetic interference as it uses visible light. 
  • It can work underwater as well.
  • It has the double benefit of bulb giving light as well as internet access. 
Working of Li-Fi

4. WiMAX

  • WiMax = Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access 
  • It is designed to provide 1Gbps  data rates for fixed stations.
  • It is part of 4G communication technology. 
  • WiMAX can offer Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) with a range of signal radius of 50 Km.
  • Its data transfer rates are superior to the conventional cable modem & Digital Subscriber Line(DSL) but since bandwidth is shared among multiple users hence yields lower speeds in practice.


  • Providing portable mobile broadband connectivity across cities and countries.
  • Providing wireless alternate to cable & DSL for last-mile broadband access.
  • Providing data, telecommunication & IPTV services.

WiMAX vs Wi-Fi

A long-range system covering many Kms & use licensed or unlicensed spectrum to deliver the connection to the network which in most cases is the internet. Uses unlicensed spectrum to provide access to LAN & is more of an end-user device.
Use Quality of Service(QoS) mechanism based on connections between a base station and user device in which each connection is based specific scheduling algorithm Uses Contention Access i.e. all subscribers are competing on a random interrupt basis. This causes subscriber stations that are distant to be repeatedly interrupted by closer stations.

WiMAX & Wi-Fi are complementary

  • WiMAX network operators provide a WiMAX Subscriber Unit that connects to the Metropolitan WiMAX network. 
  • Wi-Fi is connected to WiMAX and that provide Wi-Fi within home, office etc. 

5. NFC

  • NFC  = Near Field Communication
  • NFC is a short-range high-frequency wireless communication technology. It is a set of protocols that enable two electronic devices (one usually is a portable device such as a mobile) to establish radio data communication with each other by bringing them closer typically, 10 cm (4 inches) from each other.
  • Useful properties of NFC include
    1. Establish contact very fast (1/10th second)
    2. Very secure (80-word password) 
    3. Consumes less power
    4. NFC allows two-way communication between endpoints whereas earlier systems such as smartcards were one way only.
  • Present & anticipated applications 
    1. Contactless transactions 
    2. Digital Key
    3. Data Exchanges 
  • NFC enabled mobiles to have the potential to replace credit cards. NFC mobiles pack smart chip which is 80 character code that is hard to break.
  • NFC can also be used in social networking situations like sharing contacts, videos etc.
  • NFC enabled mobiles could become a single key to access the car, home & office.


  • Speed: This will improve speed as there is no need to swipe & require less time to complete the transaction.
  • Security: They remain in control of the customer which will improve security.


  • RFID = Radio Frequency Identification
  • It serves the same purpose as a bar code. In Barcode, information is stored in the barcode which can be analysed using Barcode Scanner. In RFID, that information is stored in RFID Chip which can be analysed using RFID Antenna.


1. FasTag

  • RFID is used in FasTag which is used to pay toll at Toll Booths.
  • Stickers affixed to the windscreen of vehicles use RFID technology to enable digital, contactless payment of tolls without having to stop at toll gates. The tags are linked to bank accounts. Sensors are placed on toll barriers and the barriers open for vehicles after payment from the valid FASTags.
  • FASTags has the potential to remove traffic bottlenecks and make the passing of vehicle through tolls considerably smoother and hassle-free since drivers will no longer have to stop to make a transaction. 
  • The government has mandated FastTag for all vehicles at all National Highways from 1 December 2019.
Working of FasTag

2. Shopping malls and Shops

  • In shopping malls, RFID tags are connected to all the objects. When a person buys that product, RFID Reader can be used at the payment counter for faster payment. When payment is done, the RFID tag is removed. But if anybody tries to go out of the shop without payment, there is one more antenna at the door which will detect such item and start to ring an alarm. 
RFID Reader

3. Logistic Management


4. Livestock Management

  • RFID Tags are implanted inside or attached to the livestock which improves farm management by tracking the individual animals.

Leave a Comment