What Is a PAN (Personal Area Network)?

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Definition: A personal area network - PAN - is a computer network organized around an individual person. Personal area networks typically involve a mobile computer, a cell phone and/or a handheld computing device such as a PDA. You can use these networks to transfer files including email and calendar appointments, digital photos and music.

Personal area networks can be constructed with cables or be wireless.

USB and FireWire technologies often link together a wired PAN, while wireless PANs typically use Bluetooth or sometimes infrared connections. Bluetooth PANs are also sometimes called piconets.

Personal area networks generally cover a range of less than 10 meters (about 30 feet). PANs can be viewed as a special type (or subset) of local area network (LAN) that supports one person instead of a group.