What is WAN – Wide Area Network Definition

What is WAN? How Wide Area Networks Function

Wide Area Networks (WANs) are a type of telecommunication network that can link devices from all over the world. WANs are the largest and most extensive computing networks currently open. 

Service providers also construct these networks and then lease them to companies, schools, municipalities, and the general public. Regardless of their location, these consumers may use the network to transmit and store data or connect with other users as long as they have access to the existing WAN. 

Different connections, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) or lines, wireless networks, telephone networks, or internet connectivity, may be used to grant access.

Wide Area Network

WANs allow foreign organizations to perform their critical everyday tasks without delay. Employees from all around the world can link to a company’s WAN to exchange data, chat with co-workers, or just remain linked to the company’s larger data resource center. Certified network experts assist companies with the upkeep of their existing wide area networks and other essential IT infrastructure.

WANs may be point-to-point, which involves a direct connection between two locations, or packet-switched, which involves data being distributed in packets over shared circuits.

Analog dial-up phones, which use a modem to link the device to the phone line, or dedicated leased cellular telephone line, also known as “private line,” are both examples of point-to-point WAN service.

Analog cables, which may be leased or part of a public switched telecommunications network, are ideal for batch data transfers including non-urgent order entry and point-of-sale transactions. Dedicated digital phone lines allow for constant, stable data transfer at a set price.

Local telecommunications operators and long-distance carriers are also point-to-point WAN service providers. Organizations with low levels of data or multiple locations, for which multiple dedicated lines will be too costly, usually use packet-switched network networks.

WANs can be used for nearly any data sharing purpose that LANs can be used for, depending on the provider. Slower transmission rates, on the other hand, can make certain WAN applications impractical.

What Is the Purpose of a WAN Connection?

Organizations would be limited to restricted areas or particular geographic regions if WAN connections did not exist. LANs would encourage businesses to operate inside their own house, but expansion to other locations such as various cities or even countries would be impossible because the associated infrastructure would be prohibitively expensive for most businesses.

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WANs empower organisations to communicate between branches, exchange knowledge, and stay connected as they expand and become more international.

Employees can access the knowledge they need to do their jobs as they travel for work thanks to WANs. WANs also assist businesses in sharing knowledge with consumers and partners, such as B2B clients or customers.

WANs, on the other hand, offer a valuable service to the general public. WANs can be used by university students to access library databases or university study. People use WANs every day to chat, bank, shop, and more.

Types of Wide Area Network (WAN) Connections

  • Packet Switching

Packet switching is a data transmission system in which a message is divided into several bits, known as packets, which are sent separately, in triplicate, over the best route for each packet, and then decoded by the receiver. 

Each packet contains a payload, which is a piece of data, as well as an identifying header with endpoint and reassembly data. To search for packet leakage, the packets are sent in three copies. Each of them is reviewed through a procedure that compares and confirms that at least two copies are identical. When the authentication fails, a request is made for it to be resent.

  • TCP/IP

TCP/IP is a collection of communication protocols that links network devices on today’s tech and another computer/device networks.  (TCP/IP) is the acronym for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.

  • Router

A router, also known as a WAN device, is a networking device that usually connects LANs to build a wide area network (WAN). This is one of the best types of WAN.

Router

IP addresses are used by IP routers to decide where packets should be forwarded. Each connected network device is given an IP address, which is a numeric mark.

  • Overlay network

An overlay network is a data networking method in which a software builds virtual networks on top of some other network, usually a hardware and cabling infrastructure. This is frequently done to support software or security features that aren’t provided by the network layer.

Wide Area Network Meaning
  • PoSNET

Packet over SONET (PoSNET) is a WAN transport communication protocol. It specifies how optical fibre and the SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) or SONET (Synchronous Optical Network) communication protocols are used to communicate between point-to-point connections.

  • ATM

ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) is an early data network switching technique that has been increasingly replaced by IP technologies. ATM encodes data into small, fixed-size cells using asynchronous time-division multiplexing.Today’s IP-based Ethernet technology, uses variable packet sizes for data.

  • Frame Relay

Frame Relay is a technology that enables data to be transmitted between LANs or WAN endpoints. It uses a packet switching approach to describe the physical and data-link layers of digital telecommunications networks.
Frame Relay encapsulates data in frames and transfers it over a shared network. Each frame contains all of the information required to route it to its intended destination. The original aim of the Frame Relay was to move data through telecom carriers’ ISDN networks, but it’s now available in a variety of other networking scenarios.

  • MPLS
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MPLS stands for Multiprotocol Label Switching, and it is a network routing optimization technique. To prevent time-consuming table lookups, it guides data from one node to the next using short path labels rather than long network addresses.

What’s the Difference Between WAN (Wide Area Network) and LAN (Local Area Network)?

LANWAN
Unique networking systems, such as ethernet and token.Longer distance communication is provided by WANs using technologies such as Frame Relay and X.25.
A local area network (LAN) is a computer network that covers a specific geographic area, such as a home, office, or cluster of buildings.A wide-area network (WAN) is a computer network that encompasses a vast area.
LAN is not really costly since it is enough to set up a couple of extra devices on the network.Since remote areas must be linked in WAN networks, the setup costs are higher.
The LAN is privately owned.The ownership of a WAN may be either private or public.
The LAN has a high pace.The WAN is slower than the LAN.

WAN Management and Optimization

Since data transmission is still controlled by laws of physics, the greater the distance between network users, the longer data would take to pass between them. The delay increases as the distance between the two points increases. Performance issues can be caused by network congestion and lost packets.

Any of this can be solved by optimization, which improves the efficiency of data transmissions. Since WAN links can be costly, innovations have emerged to lower the number of traffic crossing them while also ensuring that it arrives efficiently. Abbreviating redundant data, compression, and caching are just a few of the optimization techniques available.

Traffic can be formed to prioritise time-sensitive applications like VoIP over less urgent traffic like email, improving overall WAN efficiency. This can be formalised into performance settings that identify traffic classes based on the priority each gets in relation to others, the type of WAN connection each traffic type can use, and the bandwidth each receives.

WAN optimization and SD-WAN technology can be used independently or in tandem. Some SD-WAN vendors are integrating WAN optimization capabilities into their offerings.

What Does a Wide-Area Network Do?

WANs enable businesses to build cohesive networks that allow staff, consumers, and other stakeholders to collaborate online regardless of their physical location.

A WAN links branch offices to one another or to connect remote workers working from home to the company’s main office in an enterprise. Students can use WANs to view library databases or university research at a university or campus.

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Another entity that uses a WAN is a bank, which includes its branch offices and ATM machines. The branches may be spread around several states in the United States or even abroad, but they are all connected by a variety of safe connections. Customers and bank workers are both consumers.

Wired WAN Pros and Cons

PROS

  • Cyber Attackers would have a harder time gaining unauthorised access because devices are physically connected to the network.
  • Organizations can limit the number of devices that have access to the network by requiring a physical link.
  • The risk of malware infecting the networks is minimised as there are fewer devices accessing the network.
  • A faster communication is possible with a wired network.

CONS

  • The more cabled connections you have, the more wires you’ll have to deal with.
  • Employees can only link to a cabled network when there is a physical connection available, which limits mobility.

Wireless WAN Pros and Cons

PROS

  • Employees have the choice of working from anywhere, allowing them more versatility.
  • It reduces the cost.

 CONS

  • Wireless networks are more vulnerable to threats and slower, making them more vulnerable to attacks. 
  • It operates over a dedicated, private connection, or, in a hybrid case, has parts of it run over a shared, public medium such as the internet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a wide area network for example?

Wide area networks (WANs) are a type of telecommunication network that can link devices from all over the world. WANs are the largest and most extensive computing networks currently open. 
Service providers also construct these networks and then lease them to companies, schools, municipalities, and the general public. These consumers, regardless of their location, may use the network to transmit and store data or connect with other users as long as they have access to the existing WAN. Different connections, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) or line, wireless networks, telephone networks, or internet connectivity, may be used to grant access.
A WAN links branch offices to one another or to connect remote workers working from home to the company’s main office in an enterprise. Students can use WANs to view library databases or university research at a university or campus.

What is the WAN network used for?

Organizations would be limited to restricted areas or particular geographic regions if WAN connections did not exist. LANs would encourage businesses to operate inside their own house, but expansion to other locations — such as various cities or even countries — would be impossible because the associated infrastructure would be prohibitively expensive for most businesses.

What is the difference between WAN and the Internet?

Any wide area network is referred to as a WAN.
The local school district, for example, could have a WAN that connects all of its facilities. 
Leased line (T1s, etc. ), cable, or fixed wireless may be used to link them.
The Internet is a set of interconnected WANs and LANs.

Why is the Internet called WAN?

A WAN is usually made up of two or more local-area networks (LANs). Public networks, such as the telephone network, are commonly used for the connection of computers to a wide-area network. Leased lines or satellites may also be used to connect them. The Internet is the world’s biggest WAN.

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