What Is WAN (Wide Area Network)?


A Wide Area Network or WAN is a computer network which ranges over different cities, countries eve continents simply large geographical area. WAN is very popular for different reasons but the internet is a WAN which is the most popular computer network in the world where billions of people use this WAN type network.

According to size WAN is the largest computer network topology and the comparison against other computer network topologies can be shown below. As we can see WAN is larger than MAN and LAN topologies.

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Computer Network Topologies

WAN History

WAN networks are created in the early days of the computers. In those days WAN networks were used by the academics or scientiests in order to collobration and sharing.

In the old days about 1960’s the WAN networks was consist of circuit-switched telephone lines where the speed was very low about 2400 bps. This means 2400 bits in a second for transmission.

Then the fiber optic technology and protocols emerged which provided more reliable and more faster connection by using protocols like ATM and Frame Relay.

Today WAN uses advanced technologies and protocols like Metro Ethernet and MPLS which provides speed about 40 – 100 Gbps. Also today WAN coverage is very high according to historical WAN.

WAN Connection Technologies and Types

WAN is a very generic description of a network type where different technologies and protocols can be used to create WAN networks. Below we will list some technologies which are used to create WAN networks with different speeds, costs, etc.

  • ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode)
  • Cable Modem
  • Dial-up Modem
  • Digital Subscriber Line
  • Fiber-optic Communication
  • Frame Relay
  • ISDN
  • Leased Line
  • SD-WAN
  • X.25
  • Metro Ethernet
  • MPLS
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Wireless WAN

WAN can be created by using different technologies, protocols and as well as transmission mediums to transmit network signals. Wireless WAN is a WAN which consist of wireless devices to transmit data between different points. Wireless WAN can be easily used to transmit data related,, call, web page, streaming video. There are different wireless technologies like 4G, LTE, 5G to form Wireless WAN.

SD-WAN

SD-WAN is a technology emerged in the recent years which provides easier deployment, operations, manage for the WAN topology. SD-WAN mainly uses the virtualization technology with applications-level policies, overlay networks and onsite SD-WAN devices and software platforms.

LAN vs WAN

WAN and LAN network topologies generally compared with each other for differencies and similarities. Below we will compere these two network topologies for their different aspects.

Even WAN provides more bandwidth than LAN as the bandwidth is used by a lot of users the LAN provides faster connections especially LAN to LAN.

WAN and LAN may use same devices and technologies but WAN generally uses more specific network devices for long range data transmission.

WAN is main road to connect multiple LAN and MAN networks together but LAN only used to connect different hosts in small range.

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