Return to 5G glossary

What is WAN?

WAN stands for Wide Area Network. A WAN is a computer network that covers a large geographic area, such as a city, state, country, or even the entire world. It can connect multiple local area networks (LANs) together, such as two LANs in different cities, or even two different countries. In this blog we will go over the purpose of WANs, how they work, and what the benefits of WANs are.

What is the purpose of a WAN?

The purpose of a WAN is to interconnect different networks and allow for data transmission between them. WANs are often used to share resources between branch offices, telecommunication networks, data centres, and end users. WANs are also used to provide access to the public internet, allowing users to access the internet from any location.

How does a WAN work?

What are WAN components?

A WAN works by connecting multiple components such as computers, routers, firewalls, modems, hubs, access points, and other devices through public or private networks. Routers are used to route data packets between different networks and endpoints. Switches are used to connect multiple devices together. Firewalls are used to provide network security and protect networks from malicious attacks. Modems are used to connect networks to the public internet. Hubs are used to connect multiple computers and devices together. Wireless access points are used to connect devices to a wireless network. These components are all connected in a network to create a WAN.

What are WAN connections?

WANs are usually composed of several different types of connections, including leased lines, satellite links, and other technologies. These various connections make up the WAN architecture and allow the computers to communicate with each other over a large distance. Here are some examples of these network connections:

Unlock lightning-fast 5G internet almost anywhere

Leased lines

Leased lines are dedicated point-to-point, high-speed circuits that connect two or more locations. They are usually used by businesses and other organisations to connect multiple sites.

Satellite links

Satellite links are used to connect two or more locations that are far apart, typically over hundreds or thousands of miles. They use satellites to transmit data between two points on the Earth.

Virtual private networks (VPNs)

VPNs are used to create secure, encrypted connections over public networks. They are often used by businesses to securely connect employees or customers to their networks.

Point-to-point connections

Point-to-point connections are used to connect two or more locations directly. They can be used to link two organisations that are close together or to connect two points on a wide area network.

Lastly, these connection types are all put together through varying WAN protocols.

What are WAN protocols?

WAN protocols are the rules and regulations that govern communication across these networks. WAN protocols define how data is transmitted, the type of data that can be transmitted, the speed of transmission, and the security of the data.

Types of WAN protocols

There are many different types of WAN protocols, including Ethernet, Frame Relay, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), and ATM.

Ethernet is the most commonly used WAN protocol and it is the standard for connecting computers to a network.

Frame Relay is a technology used for efficient data transmission over long distances.

MPLS uses labels, or tags, to identify and prioritise different types of network traffic and switch it quickly and reliably from one part of a network to another.

ATM is a technology used for sending data over high-speed networks such as cable or DSL.

What is LAN (Local Area Network)?

A Local Area Network (LAN) is a computer network that is typically used in a small geographical area such as a home, office, or school. It is usually limited to a single building or campus, and it is designed to provide a high-speed connection between computers on the network.

A LAN allows computers on the network to share files, printers, and other resources. It also allows users to communicate with each other and access the Internet. The most common type of LAN is an Ethernet network, which uses cables to connect computers to the network. Wireless LANs (WLANs) are also becoming increasingly popular, allowing users to connect to the LAN without having to use cables.

How do LAN and WAN differ?

Size and scope

The primary difference between LAN and WAN is the size of the network and its scope. LANs are typically confined to a single location, such as a home or an office, while WANs span multiple locations and often span great distances.

Speed and bandwidth

Another key difference between LAN and WAN is the speed at which data can be transmitted. LANs typically have higher bandwidth and faster speeds than WANs due to their smaller size and scope.


The cost of setting up and maintaining a LAN or WAN also varies. LANs are typically cheaper to set up and maintain than WANs, but WANs often offer more features and better performance.

What are the benefits of WAN?

The benefits of WANs include cost savings, increased flexibility, enhanced security, and improved scalability. WANs allow businesses to reduce costs by utilizing VPNs, leased lines, and public internet connections instead of investing in expensive long-distance lines. WANs give businesses increased flexibility, allowing them to quickly and easily add new nodes to their network. WANs offer enhanced security, as they use multiple layers of encryption and authentication protocols to protect networks from malicious attacks. WANs also provide businesses with access to cloud-based services, software, and applications. Lastly, WANs provide businesses with cost-effective scalability, allowing them to easily expand their network as needed.

How does Inseego help with WANs?

Inseego provides businesses with the hardware and software necessary to build and maintain their WANs. Inseego’s 5G routers and 4G LTE devices provide businesses with high-speed internet access and data transmission over long distances. Inseego also provides businesses with software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions that allow them to optimize their network performance and reduce costs. Inseego’s fleet monitoring software and hardware solutions help businesses monitor and manage their WANs.

Talk to our experts!

Give your customers the fastest, easiest, most reliable fixed wireless solutions.