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Definition: home network


(1) A central system for controlling lights and appliances in the home. See home control network.

(2) A home network connects computers, tablets, smartphones and smart home devices to the Internet and to local printers, as well as to each other for sharing data. The only hardware necessary to create a home network is a modem from an ISP and a wireless router, both of which are often combined in one unit that is sometimes called a "gateway."

Technically, a home network is a LAN (local area network), whereas the Internet is a WAN (wide area network). Wireless routers provide Wi-Fi but also have three or four Ethernet ports for wired connections to desktop computers and printers. See wireless router, LAN, Ethernet and Wi-Fi hotspot. Contrast with business network.