In layman’s understanding, the Internet and wide area network (WAN) could be interchangeable terms taken to mean geographically distributed networks. While the Internet could be considered a humongous WAN, it is also misleading to think that it is the only wide area network that exists in the world.

To get a clearer picture of a WAN and how it works, here is a guide about its important points and how it could benefit your business.

What Is a WAN?

To put it simply, a wide area network is a network of networks. Specifically, it is a type of data network that connects several computers that cover a wide geographical area. WANs link cities or even countries, depending on how extensive the range is. Unlike local area networks (LAN), the WAN is not tied to a single geographical location, which means that it has an entirely different structure and operation.

While a LAN connects individual computers, WAN can link one LAN to another. While it is structurally comparable to a metropolitan area network (MAN), the difference is that the WAN can span more than 50 kilometers. While MAN is restricted by geographical location (same town or city), the WAN has much broader coverage and could be regulated by the state or country.

Internet and WAN are designed to transmit and receive data across a broad range of industries, companies with locations, global corporations and organizations that need a boost in their communications capabilities.

WANs are telecommunications systems that are access-controlled to ensure that significant data transmission and network connectivity are efficient. A WAN links local systems together, facilitating the connection of company-wide databases, marketing automation, conferencing, business operations and customer relationship management that require more bandwidth beyond what the LAN can handle.

The Purpose of the Internet and WAN

WANs allow organizations and companies to widen their communication reach, enabling remote branches and employees to access vital information and streamline work activities despite the distance.

WANs are also used to share and transfer data to partner organizations or customers, such as with business-to-business (B2B) models. Still, WANs outside of enterprise users can also be made to serve the public. It is how university students can access research or other library databases. WANs vary in configuration and use, which is what makes it a versatile type of computer network.

Examples of WAN

The Internet and WAN are closely related in that the Internet is a fitting representation of the WAN’s structure. However, these two are not exclusive since many other examples can describe what a WAN is, such as:

• Geographically remote branch offices from the main office
• Mobile broadband such as a 4G network serving populated areas
• A telecommunications company that provides homes with internet services
• Private networks such as in banks with leased lines delivered by multiple companies.

How Do WANs Work?

WANs operate through packet-switched networks or through a direct, point-to-point connection between multiple sites. In point-to-point WAN, data are sent using a modem or analog dial-up connections or private lines leased from telecom companies. For packet-switched networks, data transmission happens in packets via shared circuits.

Service providers of point-to-point WAN include long-distance carriers and local phone companies. For organizations with numerous sites or low data volumes, a packet-switched network is more practical since dedicated lines and infrastructure can be too expensive to set up.

Internet and WAN can use several kinds of technologies and connectivity. Some operators use virtual private networks (VPN) to secure connections between devices in different locations. It is increasingly essential with IP-based WANs since data sent over the Internet become more vulnerable to security threats.

Companies that need a boost in profitability and productivity might use both wireless and wired technologies, although there are negative implications to be considered. For one, retrofitting equipment and building new infrastructure can be costly.

A type of WAN known as software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) can control multiple network processes and components via a single computer dashboard or interface.

Do You Need a WAN?

You have plenty of selections when it comes to connectivity, but a WAN is a technology to consider when you are ready to expand your company geographically. NST experts can provide managed network services, including setting up the Internet and WAN to meet your requirements.

NST can handle your WAN smoothly while allowing your IT staff to take a breather when it comes to high-pressure obstacles in connectivity. With comprehensive service level agreements and a competent team, NST can be the partner to help your business grow. Contact us today to learn more.