What is a wide area network(WAN)?

WAN is a computer network that covers a widespread area. The locations could be across cities, countries, etc. You can think of your internet provider as a WAN provider. By connecting a computer with the internet, you can reach any other machine in the world (provided that the far device is also connected to the internet).

What is WAN
What is WAN

With WAN, the network resources such as servers, printers, etc., can be shared across the globe if a company has offices across multiple locations. Each location is having its own Local Area Network (LAN). Connecting all LANs with a WAN forms a more giant network where the machine from one place can access the device at another location seems if it’s present locally.

Further, you will read more about the WAN, its impact on business, and how it differs from other networks.

What is WAN?

You can think wide area network as a private network owned by a company. It is similar to the road networks that connect your house to another distant place. With a WAN, you can connect your LAN or computer to other computers or LANs across the globe in a computer network.

Being very big in size and complexity, the network is laid down by the service providers. Once the network is set, they staring giving WAN services to homes, offices, and other companies. After plugin into the WAN, a user can send and receive data to/from any location. Access can be a VPN, internet, or a wireless connection.

With WAN, any activity within an international company is not impacted by offices at distant geographical locations. Anybody with the company can connect from any location to work with other people.

Why do we need a Wide Area Network(WAN)?

If you imagine that there would not be any WAN, how offices at far locations can connect to each other for communication and sharing resources? If Office site A needs a file from office site B. The sharing will be feasible only transfer in a Hard Disk Drive via parcel in person.

An organization sets up a LAN, that enables members to communicate timely and effectively. But once offices keep growing to different locations (e.g. cities and countries.). A company can’t set up its own network cables from one location to another far place. As it may incur huge costs and also limitations because of regulations imposed.

A WAN provider has all the necessary permission and infrastructure for other companies. They provide essential services to all network users, such as students, campuses, banks, etc.

How does WAN work? How do connect two LANs are located to the far locations?

A WAN provider gives a link to the user. The user device (e.g., Wifi Router) terminated the link on the WAN port. There are various options to connect to the WAN provider. It could be a DHCP, Point to Point, or via public IP. Most companies are having public IPs so that anyone can connect to the company network from anywhere. The public IPs are assigned by the WAN or Internet providers.

Two companies can connect their LANs to each other using a VPN router. With VPN, there will be a tunnel set up between two locations. It will make communication secure too.

How is LAN different from WAN?

  • A LAN covers a small geographical area such as an office, floor, or building. While WAN can cover areas that can be bigger than multiple countries.
  • The setup cost is less in LAN as it needs only fewer devices. With WAN, the setup cost is higher.
  • Uses fewer technologies, e.g., ethernet, etc. A WAN needs to cover a long-distance transmission, for that it uses Frame Relay etc.
  • Totally for private use, no sharing, while WAN can be shared with multiple users.
  • Bandwidth is very high in LAN, WAN are shared and long-distance, so offers a lower bandwidth.
  • LAN may not need redundancy, while a WAN needs to be redundant to offer 24*7 connectivity.

What are the WAN protocols?

A WAN network uses various protocols for faster access. Most of them are the data link layer protocols. Following is the list.

  • ATM
  •  Broadband
  • Frame Relay
  • P2P 
  • X.25