In information technology, a network is a series of points or nodes interconnected by communication paths. Networks can interconnect with other networks and contain subnetworks.The most common topology or general configurations of networks include the bus, star, token ring, and mesh topologies. Networks can also be characterized in terms of spatial distance as local area networks (LANs), metropolitan area networks (MANs), and wide area networks (WANs).
A given network can also be characterized by the type of data transmission technology in use on it (for example, a TCP/IP or Systems Network Architecture network); by whether it carries voice, data, or both kinds of signals; by who can use the network (public or private); by the usual nature of its connections (dial-up or switched, dedicated or nonswitched, or virtual connections); and by the types of physical links (for example, optical fiber, coaxial cable, and Unshielded Twisted Pair). Large telephone networks and networks using their infrastructure (such as the Internet) have sharing and exchange arrangements with other companies so that larger networks are created.