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How-To Geek

Wide Area Network (WAN)

Unlike Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs) are designed to transmit data across geographic regions, countries, and even between continents. Large corporations routinely deploy WANs to connect geographically diverse employee populations, enabling them to connect easily to shared resources and conduct business as if they were sharing a massive company LAN.

The principle elements that distinguish a WAN from a LAN are that WANs operate over large physical distances, WAN deployment is generally expensive as it requires an intermediary network run by traditional telecommunication companies to bridge the two (or more) LANs, and the majority of nodes on a WAN are independent networks instead of individual hosts.

Although the Internet, by definition, is the world’s largest WAN it is not frequently referred to as such with the phrase Wide Area Network used more specifically to refer to smaller inter-regional networks.

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