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A local area network (LAN) is

an Internet Protocol (IP) network, composed of routers and LAN switches, that is used to connect nodes that are geographically close, usually within the same building.[1]
a computer network which connects computers within a relatively small geographic area. The most common form of LANs are Ethernet and token ring. Many LANs have a central server and one or more printers.
[a] group of computers and other devices dispersed over a relatively limited area and connected by a communications link that enables any device to interact with any other on the network.[2]
[a] data communication system that:
(a) Allows an arbitrary number of independent "data devices" to communicate directly with each other; and
(b) Is confined to a geographical area of moderate size (e.g., office building, plant, campus, warehouse).[3]


"Typically, a LAN is owned, operated, and managed locally rather than by a common carrier. A LAN usually, through a common network operating system, connects servers, workstations, printers, and mass storage devices, enabling users to share the resources and functionality provided by a LAN."[4]


  1. Unified Capabilities, Framework 2013, App. C, at C-10 (full-text).
  2. NIST Special Publication 800-82, at B-5.
  3. U.S. Export Administration Regulations, Part 772 (15 C.F.R. §772.1).
  4. FIPS 191, at 6.

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