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What is (WAN) Wide Area Network? – Definition, Use, Types, and More

What is (WAN) Wide Area Network? – Definition, Use, Types, and More

Definition of WAN (Wide Area Network)

WAN stands for Wide Area Network. This concept refers to a computer network covering a large swath of territory, be it a city, a country, or globally. An example of a WAN is the Internet itself.

The WAN is different from other networks such as LANs (Local Area Networks) or PANs (Personal Area Networks), which have different configurations and ranges. LANs are typical in companies or organizations, while PANs operate within a room or similar spaces.

Therefore, the WAN includes the interconnection of terminal equipment or other networks that are far apart from each other. Your infrastructure requires multiple switching nodes and vital capacity to support a large amount of data traffic.

A switching node refers to a device that is responsible for traffic management. These groups receive data through an input line and must select an output line to send it.
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What is the Use of WAN (Wide Area Network)?

WANs can have different topologies, such as the so-called point-to-point, which consists of connecting nodes through dedicated links that are always available for connection.

On the other hand, a ring topology involves connecting each node to two others, creating a pattern that increases the number of possible solutions to possible cable connection problems.

Other topologies are a star (one node becomes the center of the others’ connection) and mesh (seeks the interconnection of all nodes, which means more ability to overcome failures).

What are the Types of WANs?

Circuit switching

A call is require to establish a connection, after which each user receives a direct link through different network segments.

Switching by Message

For this type of network, switches are usually computers whose job is to receive traffic from the terminals to which they are connected. These groups check the address that is in the message header and can save it from being consulted at a different time. Messages can be automatically deleted, saved, redirected, or replied.

Packet switching

The data sent by each user is divided into a series of small chunks, upon receipt by the recipient, are combine to reassemble the original information.
It is worth noting that each packet scans the network independently as if it were separate objects, which makes traffic easier and easier to fix errors since if one of them fails, there is no need to re-send the rest.

Connection-oriented networks

They serve a large number of users, giving everyone the feeling of exclusive resources. This concept is known as virtual channel (or virtual channel).
It refers to the plane of multiplexing channels and ports, combining at least two information channels in one transmission medium through a device called a multiplexer.

Connectionless networks

These are called datagrams and are characterize by the transition from idle to data direction. Note that this type of network does not perform acknowledgment, error correction, or flow control for the entire set of users; however, each node can access these functions individually. The Internet falls into this category.

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What are the Topologies of WAN?

Without going into logical questions, such as the characteristics of devices connected to the WAN, or the addressing used, WANs can represent different physical typologies depending on how the routers and transmission lines of the subnet are arranged.

  • Point-to-point network

    Each node connects to the others through dedicated links, which are always available for communication between two points.

  • Ring network

    The nodes are connecting to each other by lines that form a ring, so that a packet can reach its destination in at least two ways (one in each direction in which the ring travels).

  • Intersecting ring network

    one or more nodes connect twisted topologies.

  • Tree-like network

    There is a hierarchy of nodes in the form of a tree. Therefore, to move from one branch to another adjacent one, packets must pass through a higher-level node.

  • Entire network

    All nodes are directly connect to the rest.

  • Star network

    The central node serves as a link for all other nodes on the subnet to communicate.

  • Irregular

    In most cases, the WAN topology is irregular, with no dominant, healthy pattern, sometimes due to combining subnets with different original topologies.

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