WAN (Wide Area Network) – Types, Uses, and Disadvantages

WAN (Wide Area Network)

The WAN (Wide Area Network) is a network type that transmits voices, data, pictures, and videos across a broad-range geographical region.

WAN is created using LAN and MAN combinations. The data is transmitted via hubs, switches, fiber optics, modems, and routers.

In this article, we will go through the different types of WAN, its uses, benefits, and disadvantages of WAN, the purpose of WAN, and many more topics.

What is WAN (Wide Area Network)?

WAN - Wide Area Network

A wide-area (WAN) network is a communication network that typically covers a large geographical area, primarily used for connecting computers. Cities, states, or even countries can be connected with WANs.

WANs are commonly used by larger businesses or organizations and are used by businesses in a broader variety of sectors with networks in many places.

However, even small businesses are increasingly using WANs to increase communications.

Purpose of WAN (Wide Area Network)

If there were no WAN links, organizations would be confined to small areas or geographical regions in particular.

LANs would allow organizations to operate inside their buildings, but expansion to outside areas would be unlikely, as the necessary infrastructure would be cost-prohibitive to most businesses.

With organizations growing with international branches, WANs help them to communicate, exchange information, and stay connected between branches.

When employees go to work, WANs allow them to access the data they need to carry out their job.

WAN also lets companies exchange knowledge with clients and partners.

However, WANs still serve the public in an important way. University students may use WANs to access library and university research databases.

And people use WANs every day to access the internet, banking, shopping, etc.

Topologies of WAN (Wide Area Network)

Some of the service provider infrastructure and WAN topologies can be used to interconnect various websites across WANs.

Common WAN-Topologies are as follows –

Point-to-point topology

A point-to-point topology utilizes a point-to-point circuit between two endpoints.Packets are transferred from one location to the other location, and vice versa.

A point-to-point connection to the customer network is clear as if there was a direct physical link between two endpoints

Hub-and-spoke topology

A point-to-point topology with a number of point-to-point circuits is one choice if private network communication between several sites is required.

A dedicated hardware interface is needed in any points to points circuit and multiple routers with multiple WAN interface cards are needed.

It can be a costly interface. A less costly alternative is a point-to-multipoint topology, also known as a hub-and-spoke topology.

All spoke circuits will share a common interface to the hub using a hub-and-spoke topology.

Full mesh topology

One of the drawbacks of hub-and-spoke topologies is that the hub must be used for all communication.

Any site can communicate with any other website directly via a full mesh topology through virtual circuits.

The limitation here is the vast number of virtual circuits that must be set up and maintained.

Dual-homed topology

The spoke routers are dual-homed and linked redundantly to two hub routers in a WAN cloud.

Dual-homed topologies have the drawback that they are more expensive to implement than a single-homed topology.

The reason is that additional networking hardware is required, such as additional routers and switches.

Topologies with dual-homed are often harder to incorporate because they require more and more complex environments.

Nevertheless, dual-homed topologies have the benefit of providing increased network stability, load balancing, distributed storage, or transmission, as well as the ability to incorporate backup service provider connections.

Advantages of WAN (Wide Area Network)

Some of the advantages of WAN are as follows-

  • Covers vast area – Wan covers an extended geographical area of 1000 km or more If your office is in different cities or countries, you can connect branches of your office via Wan. ISP (Internet Service Provider) can provide you with leased lines from which separate offices can be connected.
  • Centralized data – The organization needn’t buy email, files, and backup servers, they can all remain at its headquarters. All offices can share their data through the server in their headquarters. You will get back up, support, and other valuable information from the head office and synchronize all data to all other branches.
  • Software and resources sharing – Like LAN we can share software and other resources on the internet, such as the hard drive and RAM with other users. We share computer space with a variety of websites on web hosting.
  • Global Market – Now anyone with computer skills can do internet business and extend their business worldwide. There are also companies such as a shopping cart, selling, and stock sales, etc.
  • High bandwidth – when you have leased cables, you have high bandwidth than a standard broadband connection. You can have a high transfer rate which can improve the profitability of your business.
  • Cut costs, boost profits – WANs will help you reduce costs and raise income in a wide variety of ways in addition to reducing the need for ISDN. For instance, WANs removes or substantially reduces the cost of gathering individuals from various offices at one location.
  • Ensured uptime – Several WAN providers have business class assistance. It means that as part of your SLA you are having a certain weekly, quarterly, or annual service. They also offer support all around the clock. Ensured uptime is a major plus for the industry, no matter what.

Disadvantages of WAN (Wide Area Network)

Some of the disadvantages are as mentioned below –

  • Requires firewalls and antivirus software – The firewall must be activated on the device because data transmitted over the internet could be accessed and modified by a hacker. Some people can also inject a virus into the machine to install antivirus software. Even in different points in WAN other protection applications must be installed.
  • The installation costs are high – WAN installation in the office for the first time costs more money. It may include buying routers, switches, and additional safety tools.
  • Problems with troubleshooting– A WAN network spans broad geographic areas, and it is very difficult to address an issue within a network. 
  • Maintenance Issues – Once a WAN network has been created, it is a full-time job that needs high-tech network supervisors and technicians.

Difference between LAN (Local Area Network) and WAN (Wide Area Network)

The key distinction between a LAN and a WAN is that LANs are designed, owned and managed by individual companies and organizations because, unlike LANs, WANs belong to third-party service providers that allow WANs to be used or leased with the WAN operators if a company wishes to link its geographically scattered LANs.

Scalability is another important difference between WAN and LAN technologies. The speed of LAN is more compared to that of WAN. Design and maintenance in LAN are easy compared to WAN.

Examples of WAN (Wide Area Network)

WANs can be used in almost every data-sharing activity for which LANs can be used, depending on the application.

But slower transmission speeds can reduce the practicality of some applications for WANs.

WANs are used most commonly used for electronic mail and file transfer, but the WANs can also enable users on remote sites to access and enter data into the database on a central site.

Some examples of WAN are as follows: –

  • Satellite systems
  • Network providers
  • Companies and offices
  • 4G mobile broadband systems
  • Internet
  • Telecommunication companies
  • A Network of bank cash dispensers

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