Wide Area Networks, or WANs as theyre commonly known, are networks with the ability to span quite a distance; usually 5 kilometres or more. The main reason for any network usually to allow the sharing of resources and WANs are no exception to this; whether it is sharing resources with an employee of your business or a customers business, a WAN will allow data exchanges to be made.
They also offer connectivity between both regional and global sites but differ from the Internet. This is looked at later in this information sheet.
WANs allow for centralisation, particularly in administration which is important to allow a good level of control and security.
2. NETWORK DIFFERENCES
WIDE AREA NETWORKS
Wide Area Networks are networks that span a wide area. This is considered to be anything over around 5km meaning that a several site company will be using a WAN.
METROPOLITAN AREA NETWORKS
This is a network that covers between 2km and 5km and is often found in metropolitan cities. These networks are usually owned by a single company but are provided for use by everybody. Occasionally a network such as this will be implemented by a public company such as the local council. Generally speaking, a MAN is any type of network that connects computers together in an area of around 2km 5km.
A Campus network is a network of less than 2km that is operated by a single entity. The buildings connected together may all be owned by the same company, or several companies in this small area. This type of network is frequently found at university campuses and hospitals. Campus networks usually connect the entire site together to allow the sharing of information.
LOCAL AREA NETWORK
A LAN is a network that covers a single building. This could include a home network or an office network. It has a range of around 300m.
PERSONAL AREA NETWORK
This is any network that is in your immediate area; usually a network with a maximum distance of around 15m. It is important to note that this is usually a very simple network that it usually only has a temporary use. Wireless PANs are created by systems such as Bluetooth whilst USB and Firewire are both considered wired PANs when used to directly connect devices to each other.
Connections private computers together over a large area.
Part of a City
Connections between several buildings possibly covering the same area. This could cover an entire city or just a smaller area.
University Campus Style
Most used in an area such as a campus. This could be either an actually college/university campus or a group of buildings that require access to each other.
This is quite a small area and so is most often found in small business and home type networks.
Between Computer and Phone/PDF/etc.
Sending data such as photos or backups between computer and portable devices such as phones.
Table showing the distances, location and uses of the five networks.
3. WAN AND THE INTERNET
The Internet and WANs are two very different things but the majority of WANs will require the Internet, just as the Internet relies of WANs.
The Internet is a special network that consists of many interconnected networks to provide access to world wide resources and nobody owns it and so nobody can govern its uses unless other laws are broken.
A WAN will have a company controlling it and is therefore much more controlled in who can access and how. A WAN also connects much fewer computers and has a smaller coverage area.
4. DEVELOPMENTAL IMPACT ON WANS
There are many things that could impact the development and uses of WAN. The major five are; maintenance, costs, expansion, technology, bandwidth and planning.
Maintenance is important for any part of a system. Good maintenance will keep the WAN usable whereas no maintenance will lead to an unusable system.
Costs are an extremely important part of network development. Lower costs means that more things can be changed at once, but costs also impact quality.
WANs can only develop at the speed that the technology is developed. At each network based technological breakthrough; the support for WANs is increased and improved. If technology does not keep up to speed with the needs of WAN users then the network will not work as effectively as it should.
Bandwidth is very important for the network; without it nothing can be sent. If the amount of bandwidth needed by the network exceeds the amount of bandwidth that is available then problems concerning speed and errors are likely to arise. As bandwidth is improved (and the technologies needed to deliver said bandwidth), so are the speeds offered to business for their networks