What is a data network?

A data network is an electronic communication process that allows for the orderly transmission and reception of data, such as letters, spreadsheets, and other types of documents. What sets this type of network apart from other forms of communication, such as an audio network, is that it is configured to transmit data only. This is in contrast to the audio or voice network, which is generally employed for both voice communications and data transmission, such as a facsimile transmission.

Military command and control systems, such as those used on Navy ship bridges, are examples of private data networks.

There are two basic types of data networks in operation today. A private network is essentially a local area network designed to allow the transmission of data between the various departments of a particular entity such as a company. All company locations can be included as nodes on the network and be able to communicate through a common server that acts as the repository for any and all data files used across the business. There are also examples of private networks that allow sharing of data between multiple companies that are part of the same profession or industry. Connections can be achieved by creating a virtual private network, or VPN, that resides on a master server, or by provisioning the connections through a communications carrier.

Public data networks can use cell towers to transmit data over great distances.

In contrast to the private data network, a public network will be broadly accessible to residential and corporate customers of a given carrier network. Setting up this type of network may involve using multiple servers and connecting to the network through a number of different processes. Often, the network will require some sort of subscription process, such as a monthly usage fee. Upon receipt of the fee, the service provider will allow the creation of access credentials that will allow the consumer to access authorized parts of the network and engage in various functions commonly involved with data. This includes the ability to retrieve stored documents, create file backups of important data, and archive data such as historical information or other data deemed valuable for future applications.

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