What Is The Real Difference Between LAN And WAN Computer Network Infrastructures?


Although a business shouldn’t be confused on what the differences are between Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) … too often those entrusted with finding a bandwidth solution for their business aren’t clear on these basic tenets of overall computer network infrastructure. If not completely understood it affects the quality and accuracy of the final decision. So … it’s important to get it right.

So …. in the interest of clarity here’s the real differences between LAN and WAN:

LAN – A local area network (LAN) is a computer network covering a local area, like a home, office, or group of buildings in close proximity to each other. Current LANs are most likely to be based on switched IEEE 802.3 Ethernet, or on Wi-Fi technology running at 10, 100 or 1,000 Mbit.

In general a local area network is made up of devices in local proximity to each other and has finite distance limitations. The LAN can be either wired or wireless but is only at a single location.

WAN – A wide area network or WAN is a computer network covering a broad geographical area. Contrast with personal area networks (PANs), metropolitan area networks (MANs) or local area networks (LANs) that are usually limited to a room, building or campus. The largest and most well-known example of a WAN is the Internet.

A wide area network (WAN) is comprised of multiple LANs connected to each other across distances. And example would be a corporate office connected to each of its satellite offices. This method of interconnection is handled via a third-party carrier — i.e. Qwest provides the wiring connecting two locations together.

WANs are used to connect local area networks (LANs) together, so that users and computers in one location can communicate with users and computers in other locations. Many WANs are built for one particular organization and are private. Others, built by Internet service providers, provide connections from an organization’s LAN to the Internet. WANs are most often built using leased lines. At each end of the leased line, a router connects to the LAN on one side and a hub within the WAN on the other. Leased lines can be very expensive. Instead of using leased lines, WANs can also be built using less costly circuit switching or packet switching methods. Network protocols including TCP deliver transport and addressing functions. Protocols including Packet over SONET, MPLS, ATM and Frame relay are often used by service providers to deliver the links that are used in WANs. X.25 was an important early WAN protocol, and is often considered to be the “grandfather” of Frame Relay as many of the underlying protocols and functions of X.25 are still in use today (with upgrades) by Frame Relay.

For professional help in finding just the right LAN or WAN solution for your business applications …. use the no cost assistance available through DS3-Bandwidth.com.

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