Networks PT.3



A local area network (LAN) is a computer network that interconnects computers in a limited area such as a home, school, computer laboratory, or office building using network media. The defining characteristics of LANs, in contrast to wide area networks (WANs), include their usually higher data-transfer rates, smaller geographic area, and lack of a need for leased telecommunication lines.


A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a network that covers a broad area (i.e., any telecommunications network that links across metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries) using private or public network transports. Business and government entities utilize WANs to relay data among employees, clients, buyers, and suppliers from various geographical locations. In essence, this mode of telecommunication allows a business to effectively carry out its daily function regardless of location. The Internet can be considered a WAN as well, and is used by businesses, governments, organizations, and individuals for almost any purpose imaginable.

Pros and Cons About LAN and WAN

The maximum speed of a LAN can be 1000 megabits per second, while the speed of a WAN can go up to 150 megabits per second. This means the speed of a WAN, is one-tenth of the speed of a LAN. A WAN is usually slower because it has lower bandwidth.Computers in a LAN can share a printer, if they are all in the same LAN. On the other hand, a WAN cannot share a printer, so a computer in one country cannot use a printer in another country. A LAN does not need a dedicated computer to direct traffic to and from the Internet, unlike a WAN that needs a special-purpose computer, whose only purpose is to send and receive data from the Internet.

Another LAN vs. WAN comparison is the cost of the network. A WAN is more expensive than a LAN. It is easier to expand a LAN than a WAN. The equipment needed for a LAN is a network interface card (NIC), a switch and a hub. On the other hand, the equipment needed to connect a WAN to the Internet is a modem and a router. The modem may be a cable modem or a DSL modem that is connected to a wall jack, while the router should be configured so that it can handle the packets traveling between the WAN and the Internet.

Difference between WAN and LAN

Local area networks and wide area networks are essentially the same in many aspects. They only differ in the area that is covered by the network. LANs are networks that are limited to a small geographic location. The computers connected to the network could be in a single room, a few rooms, or spread out in an entire building. WANs, on the other hand, cover great distances and are not limited to a single location. The biggest and most popular example of a WAN is the internet, which spans the whole globe and has millions of computers connected to it.

LANs are very common nowadays, it is commonplace in a work environment and even at home. It is necessary to implement a local area network in order to connect multiple computers to the internet using a single DSL line. With regards to speed, LAN usually operates at much higher rates compared to WAN. This is largely due to the proximity of the computers and the lack of congestion in most cases. It is common to experience up to 80 or 90 mbps in a LAN while achieving 10 to 20mbps is already a great achievement for WAN.

Security wise, LAN can be more secure due to the fact that all the computers are within a specific area and are physically easier to secure. The data on a wide area network needs to pass across public phone lines in order to reach its intended destination. The data is then vulnerable to attack by anyone with the right skills to penetrate your network. Unlike LAN, there is just no physical way of securing it, which is why electronic features are the only defense structure in place.