Stands for "Personal Area Network." A PAN is network of connected devices used by one person. It allows devices such as computers, tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches to communicate with each other.

A PAN may incorporate a number of different connections, including Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. For example, a desktop computer may connect to a personal router via Ethernet and a tablet may connect via Wi-Fi. A smartphone may communicate with a computer via Wi-Fi and a smartwatch via Bluetooth.

"Smartphone tethering" is a common type of PAN, in which a laptop or other device connects to the Internet through a smartphone's cellular data connection. If your mobile plan allows it, you can set up your smartphone as a "mobile hotspot" or "personal hotspot," which makes it function like a wireless router that is connected to the Internet. You can then connect to the smartphone from your computer or tablet like you would connect to a Wi-Fi router. Tethering may take place over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or USB depending on the device.

Since PANs are designed to be limited to a single user, they are often secured automatically by only accepting connections from authorized devices. However, it is wise to double-check your connection settings to make sure that a password is required or that only authorized devices can connect, rather than "everyone."

Updated November 9, 2018 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

Martech refers to what type of technology?

Correct! Incorrect!     View the Martech definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of PAN on this page is an original definition written by the team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.