WAN stands for wide area network. They cover large areas like cities or even different nations to connect. LAN stands for local area networks and as the name suggests, they are meant for smaller and more localized networks like home, business etc. This makes LANs faster than WANs. Also, LANs are typically more secure than WANs. WANs can also be understood as having two or more LANs in different areas. The entire connection setup would be called as WAN while the local connection would be LAN.
LANs run over user-owned infrastructure. Cables, modems, computers and routers. WANs run over leased lines and expensive equipment (like satellites, communications towers and communications centers) and ownership maybe distributed among several organizations. Speed of LANs typically range around 1000mbps while the speed of WANs is around less than 150mbps.
LANs also enjoy higher transfer rate due to the proximity of the workstations. WANs are a bit slower in that regard. When it comes to the technology they employ, LANs use Ethernet and Token Ring. Ethernet is a bus based protocol device in which cables and wires are permanent. WANs tend to use technologies like MPLS, ATM, Frame Relay and X.25 for connectivity over long distances.
How LAN is different from WAN?
LAN’s have very few transmission errors. The same cannot be said about WANs. Also, it’s not very expensive to add new systems dynamically in LAN. However, in WAN, it gets quite expensive to add machines since they are spread across the region, they must be synchronized and notified of the installation. Still, there are some ways of going about it like VPN which makes the process smoother.
LAN provide high bandwidth most of the time. Low bandwidth is available in WAN. It’s because of the fact that LAN experience less congestion while WAN experience more congestion. Another reason for that is since you are paying an external telecom company for the WAN, you do not want an unlimited bandwidth for your user. It becomes infeasible.
Pick one, Is it LAN or WAN fit for your business?
Interestingly, the differences between WANs and LANs are at the physical and data-link layers. At the network layer, most people use IP and those applications that do use IP don’t have to know which physical and data-link layers are in use. Anything you can do a LAN you can also do on a WAN.
Another distinction for LAN and WAN that is easy to remember is the makeup of the networks. A LAN is usually just individual systems/devices connected to each other, while a WAN is usually networks connected to each other. That is, you don’t usually have a sub-network in a LAN, and you don’t usually have a single computer attached to a WAN all by itself. Also, the networking hardware usually plays a role in the distinction. For example, routers in LANs and switches in WANs; CAT5 cables and little wireless antennae for LANs and giant under-sea cables and satellites in orbit for WANs.
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