The Functions of A Wide Area Network (WAN)

A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a network that covers a large area. Its coverage extends from country to continent.

We can say a WAN is a connection of multiple LANs.

The primary function of a WAN is to connect two Local Area Networks located in different locations. When we need to connect two LANs at different locations separated by a long distance, we need WAN to connect them.

Different WAN services are available to connect two remote LANs. Once we connect two LANs with a WAN connection, we can communicate between them.

The best example of a WAN is the Internet.

Cable and DSL are the two most popular WAN connections. Other than these two, there is a list of WAN services available.

Application of WAN Services in Today's World

Without the concept of a Wide Area Network (WAN), there is no Internet. Without the Internet, none of the Information Technology developments were possible.

So, we can say WAN technology is the backbone of today's Information exchange. An example is this website. You are reading on your mobile phone.

How is it possible? A WAN technology transfers this web page from the server to your mobile phone. Without a WAN, you cannot access this web page.

Another example is a corporate company that has offices in various countries. Communication between their offices works due to a WAN.

List of Popular WAN Services

  1. Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)

  2. Cable

  3. Dedicated circuits

  4. ATM

  5. Analog Dialup

  6. Frame Relay

  7. ISDN

  8. X.25

  9. SMDS (Switched Multi-megabit Data Services)

Popular Connection Types in WAN Services

There are four different connection types used in Wide Area Networks service. They are:
  1. Circuit-switched:

    Circuit-switched services provide a temporary connection using a phone circuit. Analog dialup and ISDN are examples of circuit-switched WAN connection types.

  2. Cell Switched:

    Cell Switched service uses dedicated connections, but it can connect multiple devices by a single device using the same interface. It is advanced compared to dedicated switched services.

  3. Packet Switched:

    Packet Switched services use variable-length packets to connect multiple devices from a single device over a dedicated connection.

  4. Dedicated connections:

    As the name suggests, it uses a dedicated connection to connect two devices.

Important WAN Network Devices:

Networking devices in Wide Area Networks are:

  1. DSL and Cable Modems

  2. Firewall

  3. Carrier Switches

  4. NT1s

  5. Routers