What is Personal Area Network?

What is Personal Area Network?

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Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content
Updated on Nov 15, 2023 18:20 IST

Personal Area Network may wireless or can be carried over interfaces. Wireless PAN is carried over low-powered and short distance wireless technology such as Bluetooth, Zigee, IrDA and Wireless USB.


In this article, we will discuss the Personal Area Network and its types in detail.

Table of Contents

What is Personal Area Network?

A personal Area Network (PAN) is a computer network to interconnect electronic devices within the individual workspace. It can communicate between personal devices or connect to a higher-level network and the internet. It connects computerized devices, thus creating a connection that can be wireless (WiFi), IrDA, Bluetooth or wired (FireWire and USB). 

Devices within PAN exchange data with each other. Since PAN does not include a router, it does not connect directly to the Internet. However, a device within PAN can be connected to LAN that connects to the internet. It provides a single-user environment for connecting multiple devices, thus making it useful for offices, homes, and small network areas. 

Types of Personal Area Network

There are mainly two types of Personal Area Networks, including wired and wireless networks. Let us learn about these networks in detail:

1. Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN)

This is a Personal Area Network where interconnected devices are placed around the workspace of a person and is connected via a wireless medium. Due to this, it is called the person’s centered short-range wireless connectivity. The range is within 10 meters which is a very short range.

In WPAN, there is not much requirement for infrastructure. Let us now discuss the different types of Wireless PAN. Digital cameras, WiFi, Thermostats, motion sensor, USB flash drives, and wearable devices are some examples of WPAN. According to IEEE, Wireless Personal Area Network is classified into three classes, including the following:

  • High-rate WPAN: The data throughput is more than 20 Mbps
  • Medium-rate WPAN: Data throughput is 1 Mbps
  • Low-rate WPAN: Data throughput is less than 0.25 Mbps

Following are examples of wireless personal area networks:

  1. Ultra-wideband (Ultraband): It is a communication method that is used in wireless networking. UWB has low power consumption due to which it can achieve high bandwidth connections. It transmits data over short distances without using too much power. Data is transmitted over several frequency channels simultaneously.
  2. ZigBee: It is a technology of home networking that is created for controlling and sensing networks. It is based on IEEE 802.15.4 and is a standard to address the need for low-cost implementation of low-power devices with low data rates for short-range wireless communications.
  3. Bluetooth: It is a WPAN technology that is used for exchanging data over shorter distances. This type of wireless Personal Area Network operates in the industrial, scientific, unlicensed, and medical bands from 2.4-2.485 GHz. 
  4. IrDA: IrDA short form is  Infrared Data Association. This type of Personal Area Network utilizes infrared light and has a frequency that is lower than that sensitive to the human eye. It can run at speeds ranging from 115.2Kbps – 1.15Mbps and 4Mbps. Devices that utilize IrDA ports must be within 10 feet of each other with a clear line of sight between them. 

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2. Wired Personal Area Network

It provides short connections among peripherals that is connected via wires. Here, the following wired connection techniques are used.

  1. IEEE 1394/ FireWire: It is an interface standard for serial buses that is used for high-speed communications and isochronous real-time data transfer. This electronic standard is used for connecting computers and includes a plug-and-socket connection with a serial bus interface.
  2. Thunderbolt: It is a type of hardware interface for connecting external peripherals to computer. This networking technology extends PCIe network to external peripherals. The latest version of Thunderbolt 4 protocol supports two 4K displays or a single 8K display. In this case, cords can be up to two meters long. This version is fully compatible with USB4 protocol and data rates. 
  3. Universal Serial Bus (USB): This industry standard establishes specifications for cables, protocols, connectors for communication, and power supply between peripheral devices and personal computers. It standardizes the connection of peripherals, but with time, USB is used for communicating and supplying electric power.  

3. Body Area Networks (BANs):

  1. Medical BANs: These are specialized PANs for monitoring vital signs and managing medical devices implanted in or worn on the body. They are used in healthcare settings for patient monitoring.
  2. Fitness and Entertainment BANs: Used for connecting wearable devices like fitness trackers, smartwatches, and smart clothing to smartphones or computers for data syncing and monitoring.

4. Near Field Communication (NFC): It is a set of communication protocols that helps in enabling two electronic devices. One of them is a portable device such as smartphones. It establishes communication by bringing them within close proximity. Commonly used for contactless payments, access control, and data sharing.


The following are the benefits of a Personal Area Network:

  • They save space since they can function without wires. One can use Bluetooth in connected devices to share data among them. 
  • Personal Area Network is easy to use since it does not require any advanced setup.
  • Data connection within this network is stable and reliable if used within 10 meters. 
  • It is possible to synchronize multiple devices. 
  • Personal Area Network is portable in nature, due to which data exchange remains unaffected even when devices are moved. 

Threats Associated with Personal Area Network

Within wireless PAN, one of the main threats is wormhole attacks. The attacker records packets at a location within the network, and tunnels them to other locations into the network. It is a threat against ad hoc network routing protocols and location-based wireless security systems. These networks are also prone to man-in-the-middle attacks and Denial of Service attacks. There is also a threat of rouge APs. 

Future of Personal Area Networks

The following are the possible applications of Personal Area Networks: 

  • It will enable communication among devices that are both embedded in environment and persons. 
  • PAN technology will be continued to use by individuals to enhance their ability to perform productive work.
  • It is useful for multimedia applications that require high speed combined with high-quality of service.
  • Low-speed PAN technology is suitable for applications that do not have much need for data speed and low quality of service.  


Thus, as technology advances and the boundaries between devices blur, the significance of PANs is set to grow. However, like all technological advancements, it’s essential to approach PANs with a balance of enthusiasm for their potential and caution regarding security and privacy concerns.


About the Author
Jaya Sharma
Assistant Manager - Content

Jaya is a writer with an experience of over 5 years in content creation and marketing. Her writing style is versatile since she likes to write as per the requirement of the domain. She has worked on Technology, Fina... Read Full Bio