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WAN - Wide Area Network

This article covers meaning & importance of WAN - Wide Area Network from IT perspective

Published by MBA Skool Team in Information Technology & Systems Last Updated: October 03, 2023Read time:

What is WAN - Wide Area Network?

A computer network that covers a geographically large area is called a wide area network (WAN). WAN comprises two or more local area networks (LAN) or metro area networks (MAN) and is simply a dispersed communication network for transmission of data, voice, image, video etc. The computers in a wide area network are generally connected through public networks like the phone system, satellite systems, and leased lines or with the help of other service providers like cable companies etc. WANs are also built using cheaper packet switching or circuit switching methods. It can also be privately owned or rented.

Importance of WAN

Wide Area Networks can be compared to a banking system wherein hundreds of branches of a bank in different cities are connected to each other and share information. The functioning of a WAN is similar to a LAN but on a larger scale. It uses much more costly networking equipments than a LAN. A TCP/IP protocol is used in combination with switches, firewalls, routers and modems. Segments of the Internet such as VPN-based extranets can also be called WAN. Prime technologies found in WANs include Frame Relay, Synchronous Optical Network (SONET), High Data Link Control (HDLC), Synchronous Data Link Control (SDLC) and ATM. They are generally used by business and government entities to transmit data among clients, employees, suppliers and buyers from various geographical locations. They need a good firewall to prevent outsiders from entering and disrupting the network. Setting up a wide area network can be slow and complicated and maintaining it is full time job.


The Internet is considered as the largest existing WAN. Recently with the procreation of less expensive internet connectivity, companies like Cisco, Citrix, New Edge Networks and Check Point have switched to VPN (Virtual Private Network) to interconnect their networks, creating a network in that sense.

Hence, this concludes the definition of WAN - Wide Area Network along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team which comprises of MBA students, management professionals, and industry experts. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

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