What Is The Wide Area Network (WAN)?

Last Updated: 2021-11-24
Summary: When it comes to WAN, you must be no stranger to it. It is a telecommunications network that extends to a large geographical area and is used for computer networks’ primary purpose. We will offer a detailed introduction to the wide area network (WAN) in today’s post.


The WAN, short for Wide Area Network, is an extensive computer network connecting computer groups from a distance. It is usually built through leased telecommunications circuits.

WAN is critical for international businesses and everyday use because the Internet is regarded as the largest WAN in the world.

In essence, this telecommunications mode enables enterprises to perform their daily functions effectively. Businesses, government agencies, and schools use WAN to deliver data to staff, clients, buyers, suppliers, and students worldwide.



ATM, an Asynchronous Transfer Mode, is a common switching technique in early data networks and has been primarily replaced by IP-based technology. ATM adopts asynchronous time-division multiplexing to encode data into small and fixed-size cells. In contrast, today’s IP-based Ethernet technology adopts variable packet sizes for data.

Overlay Network

The overlay network is a data communication technology where software is used to create a virtual network on another network. This is typically to support applications or security features that are not available on the underlying network.

Packet Switching

Packet switching is a way of data transfer in which messages are broken down into parts, called packets. These parts are sent independently by the best route for each packet and reassembled at the destination.

Each packet contains a part called the payload and an identification header that contains destination and reassemble information.

Packets are delivered in triplicate to check for packet corruption. Each packet is verified by comparing and confirming that at least two replicas match. When validation fails, a request is made to resend the packet.


The router is a network device typically used to interconnect LAN to form WAN (wide area network) and is therefore called a WAN device. The IP router uses the IP address to determine where the packet is forwarded. The IP address is the digital label assigned to each connected network device.

TCP/IP Protocol Suite

TCP/IP refers to Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. TCP/IP is an essential communication protocol suite for interconnecting network devices on today’s Internet and other device networks.

Advantages & Disadvantages


  • It covers devices, including mobile phones, computers, tablets, laptops, game consoles, and more.
  • Share information or files on a larger area.
  • Shares resources and software through various workstation connections.
  • WAN helps users cover a larger geographic area, so it’s easy to communicate in a longer-distance business office.
  • WLAN connections work with radio transmitters and receivers built into client devices.


  • It requests more time to resolve issues because of the variety of wired and wireless technologies involved.
  • Maintaining the WAN network can be difficult because users need skilled technicians and network administrators.
  • The initial set up cost of the WAN network is high
  • WAN networks provide lower security than other types of networks.


Local Area Network (LAN) is a set of computers and peripheral devices connected to a limited area, such as a home, laboratory, school, or office building.

There are some critical differences between WAN and LAN:

  • A WAN is a computer network, which covers a broader area than LAN.
  • The design and maintenance of WAN are more complicated than that of LAN.
  • The speed of WAN is slower than LAN.
  • WAN has a lower data transfer rate than LAN.
  • WAN provides less fault tolerance, while LAN offers more fault tolerance.

Wind It Up!

In conclusion, this article briefly introduces the WAN (wide area network), including its definition, types, advantages, and disadvantages. Besides, by reading this article, you will also understand the differences between WAN and LAN. I hope this article will be helpful to you.


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