What is Wide Area Network? – WAN Explained with Examples

By | 10th November 2015

A wide area network (WAN) is a telecommunications or computer network that extends over a large geographical distance.

A Wide Area Network suits an individual, a Company or Organization that operates different location that is separated by large geographical distances, it will be a matter of necessity to connect these individual locations so as to share, exchange and manager data or communication. To achieve this, the organization needs a Telecommunication Service Provider (TSP) to interconnect the LANs at the different locations.

WANS Types

A company that has an office in London and another office in Manchester and need these offices to be connected to each other so as to be on the same network even though they are miles away, The following WAN options or types and the protocols used are available to use.

WAN Types Including:

1. Leased Line
Point-to-point connection between two Local Area Networks LANs

Very if not most secure

Very Expensive to run

Protocols Used

2. Circuit Switching
A dedicated circuit path is created between endpoints. Good example is dialup connections (telephone system)
which links together wire segments to create a single unbroken line for each telephone call.

Less expensive

Call Setup

Protocols Used

3. Packet Switch
Network devices transport packets via a shared single point-to-point or point-to-multipoint medium across. Variable length packets are transmitted over PVCs or SVCs

Highly efficient use of bandwidth

Shared media across link

Protocols Used
X.25, Frame Relay

4. Cell Relay
Same as packet switching, but uses fixed-length packets. Data is divided into fixed length cells and then transported across virtual circuits

Best for simultaneous use of voice and data

Overhead can be considerable

Protocols Used

5.  Internet
Wireless packet switching using the internet as the WAN infrastructure. Uses network addressing to deliver packets. Because of security issues VPN technology must be used.

Least expensive, globally available

Least secure

Protocols Used
VPN, DSL, cable modem, wireless



Telecommunications Service Providers manage large area networks that can span long distances.  TSPs transports voice and data communications on separate networks. These networks that connect LANs in geographically separated locations are referred to as Wide Area Networks (WANs).

Major characteristics of WANs:

WANs generally connect devices that are separated by a broader geographical area that cannot be served by a LAN.
WANs use the services of carriers, such as telephone companies, cable companies, satellite systems, and network providers.
WANs use serial connections of various types to provide access to bandwidth over a large geographic area.

Related Articles

 WAN Devices

Cabling Network Devices

How to Cable LANs and WANs 

 Virtual Private Network (VPN)  

 Point-to-Point (PPP)  WAN Connection  

Frame Relay WAN Connection

// ]]>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *