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What is a wide area network? – Definition, Differences, User guide, and more
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What is a wide area network? – Definition, Differences, User guide, and more

Wide area network definition

A wide area network is a network of devices, local area networks (LANs), or metropolitan area networks (MANs) connected through wireless or wired communication lines.

A virtual private network ( VPN ) connects different full area network sites.

such connections cover large geographic areas and may occur between cities, regions, or even countries.

A WAN is use by large activity looking to manage and share information and resources between branch offices.

This type of network is use mainly to connect smaller local area networks.

Although local networks’ data transmission capacities are slower, it allows a larger coverage area to connect.

Internet service providers operate public WANs to provide their customers with access to the Web.

Private wide area networks are mainly set up by companies, for example, to enable cloud services and link together networks of different company sites.

Also You can find more helpful resources at technologybeam

Differences from Local Area Network, Wireless LAN, and Metropolitan Area Network

  • In networking, we find terms similar to WAN, such as WLAN, LAN, and MAN. The technologies behind these terms are related to the Wide Area Network but refer to distinct structures.
  • The main difference between LAN and MAN is WAN size.
  • LAN refers to the interconnection of several computers at the same site (company, household, etc.) to form a network to exchange information or access another network.
  • The data transfer rate of local networks is seriously higher than that of WANs since the distance to be covered much less.
  • MAN stands for Metropolitan Area Network or Metropolitan Network. This network is the big brother of the LAN.
  • It covers cities and metropolitan areas for a distance of up to 100 kilometers but is still smaller than a WAN.
  • To link several LANs together, the MAN uses fiber.
  • The Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) is a LAN that is not accepted via a cable connection.
  • This network use radio waves to allow different computers to communicate or connect to another network, such as the Internet.
  • Like a LAN, a WLAN can therefore be connected to a MAN and then to a WAN.

How does a WAN work?

  1. Since a WAN does not connect single computers but entire networks, the technology used differs  from other types of networks. On the other transfer protocols and concepts of address are use.
  2. WANs use technologies and transfer protocols from layers one to three of the OSI reference model.
  3. A WAN, therefore, works on the physical layer (layer 1), the link layer (layer 2), and the network layer (layer 3).
  4. Wide Area Networks use a uniform addressing scheme. Indeed, with several such networks, the unaddressed sending of data would be inefficient.
  5. Intermediate systems or network nodes such as switches, bridges, and routers ensure that the data packets sent get to the correct address.
  6. Thanks to this hardware, the data packets transmits from one subnet to another.
  7. They are made available to the suitable network participant, whether it is a PC, a smartphone, a TV, or a refrigerator—the technology form on this process based on the TCP / IP protocol stack.

WAN devices

Despite the multiple types of connections created to form a WAN, these lines rely on similar hardware or software components required to set up a public or private network.

WAN switch

A WAN switch functions as a multi-port Internet network device that operates at the OSI reference model’s data link layer. It is useful in operator networks to switch traffic uses.

WAN devices

Access server

The Functioning of an access point for other nodes in the network, an access server is where the input and output connections are focus.

Can configure a physical access server to provide rights to other computers or are not network members.


A Modem is an short form for Modulator / Demodulator.

It is a piece of hardware responsible for translating digital data into analogue data, enabling data to transmit over phone lines.


A channel service unit or device service unit is a computerized interface gadget that gives signal planning to associations.

Between the data terminal equipment (DTE) and the data circuit termination device (DCE). The CSU / DSU deciphers the virtual pitch write for us interface of the DTE to the interface of the DCE.

ISDN terminal adapter

It is necessary to establish a connection between an ISDN Basic Rate Interface Connection (BRIC) and other interfaces;

it functions as an ISDN modem that allows users to connect their device or local network to a terminated dial-up ISDN line.

High-speed interface

It allows integration of DTE and DCE interfaces, allowing high-speed connections of up to 53 Mbps over WAN networks.

It is typically a short-distance feeder link for a LAN router and a T3 line,

 establishing a LAN-WAN connection by operating on the OSI reference model’s physical layer.

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