Network is a medium that connects multiple computer systems with a common communication link. A network is categories into three types such as Local Area Network (LAN), Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN).  And in this article, we will cover all about Wide Area Networks (WAN).

Wide Area Network (WAN)

A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a computer network that connects computers within a large geographical area comprising a region, a country, a continent or even the whole world.

Wide area networks, generally called WANs, are mostly public, leased or privately-owned networks. They provide a useful way of sharing resources between the end users such as the long-distance transmission of data, voice, image, and information over large geographical areas. The best example of a Wide Area Network is the Internet which connects many smaller LANs and MANs through Internet service providers.Wide Area Network

The key difference between WAN and LAN

One key difference between a LAN and a WAN is that LANs are built, owned and operated by individual companies and organizations but unlike LANs, WANs are owned by third-party service providers a company wanting to connect its geographically dispersed LANs must subscribe to a WAN service providers such as a telephone company to use or lease it’s WAN carrier network services.

Another key difference between WANs and LANs technologies is scalability. Wide Area Network as its name suggests it must be able to grow as needed to cover multiple cities, even countries, and continents whereas Local Area Network as its name suggest it is able to cover single campus, single office, or a single building.


Typically, WANs are interconnected LANs. One of the best examples of a WAN is the Internet (a WAN that grows larger day by day).

Types of WAN Connections

A WAN (Wide Area Network) network can be established in many ways but there are two main types of WAN connections.

  1. Dedicated Connection
  2. Switched Connection

Dedicated Connections

A dedicated connection is a communications medium or other facility dedicated to a particular application such as telephony operation or internet service providing.

Dedicated leased Lines (WAN)

1: Leased Lines:
  • It is a dedicated point to point connection which provides pre-establish WAN communication path through Internet Service provider to a remote destination.
  • Leased Lines provides very high-speed data transmission up to 64Gbps.
  • It is very expensive.
2: Digital Subscriber Line (DSL):
  • It provides the connection between ISP to a customer through a telephone line.
  • It is a broadband technique which provides the same upstream and downstream.
3: Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL):
  • ADSL is a type of modern digital subscriber line technology, that enables data transmission at high speed over the telephone line.
  • It is the same as a digital subscriber line but the only difference is that upstream and downstream occurs at different time.

Switched Connections

There are three basic types of switched connections:

  1. Circuit Switched Network.
  2. Packet Switched Network.
  3. Cell Switched Network.Switched Connection WAN
1: Circuit Switched Network:
  • In circuit switches network every time before transferring data over the Wide area network, the new connection gets setup, after the data transfer the connection gets closed.
  • In this technique generally, data is transferred through a single connection or single path.
2: Packet Switched Network:
  • Packet switched network uses the virtual connection for transferring of information, first it creates a connection for data transmission and used it as a permanent connection.
  • It is faster than the circuit switched network.
  • It is used for multipath communication.
3: Cell Switched Network:
  • Cell switching operates in a similar way to packet switching but in this type of network data transfer is in fixed size which is up to 155 Mbps.
  • Cell switching can handle multiple data types, i.e. audio, video and image data.
  • ATM is the example of Cell switched Network.

The distinguishing features of Wide Area Network:

  1. Covers large geographical area: Wide area network covers a large geographical area of more than 1000km. If your office is in different cities or countries then you can connect your office branches through Wide Area Network.
  2. Centralized data: Wide area networks also provide you the facility of sharing the data to all of your connected devices in a network.For example, through WAN connection all office branches can share the data through the head office server. You can get back up, support, and other useful data from the head office and all data are synchronized with all other office branches.
  3. Get updated files and data: Wide Area Networks provide you the facility of getting updated files and data from the server. If a server is updated with new data then all connecting devices receive that updated data within seconds.
  4. Sharing of software and resources: Like LANs, we can share software applications and other resources with other users on the internet.
  5. High bandwidth: WANs covers a large geographical area of more than 1000km. therefore WANs have high bandwidth compared to LANs and MANs.

Disadvantages of a wide area network (WAN)

  1. Security problems: Wide Area Networks faces more security problem as compare to LANs and MANs.
    One of the key disadvantages of WANs is a security issue when many different people have the ability to use information from other computers.
  2. Needs firewall and antivirus software: As it faces security issue, therefore it is a basic need of WANs to use firewalls and antivirus software to protect data transfer on the internet which can be accessed and changed by hackers. Also, some people can inject a virus into the computers so antivirus software is also needed to install.
  3. The setup cost is high: A WAN network covers a large geographical area, it is very expensive to setup in the initial stage.  It may involve purchasing different networking devices, i.e routers, switches, and extra security software.
  4. Troubleshooting problems: A WAN network covers large geographical areas, so fixing the problem in a network is a very difficult job. Most of WANs wires go into the sea and if those wires get broken. It involves a lot of hard work to fix those lines under the sea.
  5. Maintenance Issues: Once set up, maintaining a WAN network is a full-time job which requires high tech skills of network supervisors and technicians.

Examples of wide area network (WAN):

Some examples of WAN are below: WAN Connection

  1. Internet
  2. Large telecommunications companies like Airtel store IT department
  3. Satellite systems
  4. Cable companies
  5. Network providers
  6. U.S defense department
  7. A network of bank cash dispensers
  8. Airline companies
  9. Stock brokerages
  10. Railway reservations counter
  11. 4G Mobile Broadband Systems

Also Read:

  1. Advantages of WAN | Disadvantages of WAN
  2. WAN vs LAN | What is the difference Between WAN vs LAN
  3. What is LAN Network? Advantages and Disadvantages of LAN
  4. What is Point to Point Topology? Advantages and Disadvantages
  5. What is Bus Topology? Advantages and Disadvantages
  6. What is Star Topology? Advantages & Disadvantages 
  7. What is Mesh Topology? Advantages & Disadvantages
  8. What is Ring Topology? Advantages & Disadvantages
  9. What is Tree Topology? Advantages & Disadvantages
  10. What is Hybrid Topology? Advantages & Disadvantages
  11. What is MAN Network? Advantages and Disadvantages of MAN
  12. Network Operating System- Advantages and Disadvantages of NOS