#What is: What is LAN and WAN

Local Area Network (LAN): Local Area Network (LAN) is a computer network, which is limited to a small office, single building, multiple buildings inside a campus etc. Typically a Local Area Network (LAN) is a private network owned and maintained by a single organization. Your home wife can be a good example.


This article will seek to demystify the LAN and WAN.



Wide Area Network (WAN): A Wide Area Network (WAN) spans over multiple geographic locations, which is composed of multiple LANs .this is the system used in the banking sector in Zimbabwe that enables most of their clients to acquire the cash and information even when they are in areas outside of their main branches.


It is nearly impossible for a small to medium organization (except Network Service Providers) to pull network cables between their two offices in two different countries located 1000s of kilometres away. Network Service Providers (also called as ISPs) provide the connectivity solutions for Wide Area Networks (WAN).

A Local Area Network (LAN) is a private computer network that connects computers in small physical areas. Example: A small office, a Single building, multiple buildings inside a campus etc. Wide Area Networks (WAN) is type of computer network to connect offices which are located in different geographical locations. Wide Area Network (WAN) depends mainly on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for connection solutions.

Local Area Network (LAN) has higher bandwidth rates. Current Local Area Networks (LANs) runs on bandwidths of 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps. Wide Area Networks (WAN) has lower bandwidth rates compared with Local Area Network (LAN). Current Wide Area Networks runs on bandwidths of 4 Mbps, 8 Mbps, 20 Mbps, 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps.

Local Area Network (LAN) bandwidth rates are almost constant. Local Area Network (LAN) bandwidth rates are dependent on characteristics of the LAN technology in use (Normally FastEthernet or Gigabit Ethernet). Since most of Wide Area Networks (WAN) connectivity solutions are dependent on Internet Service Providers (ISPs), budget related constraints affect the quality of WAN.

WAN uses technologies like VPN (Virtual Private Network) over Internet, MPLS, FrameRelay, or Leased Lines as WAN connectivity solutions.

Since Local Area Networks (LANs) are private networks, managed by dedicated local network administrators, Local Area Networks (LANs) are more reliable and secure than Wide Area Networks (WANs). Since Wide Area Networks (WANs) involve 3rd party service providers, WAN networks are less reliable and secure.

Initial set-up costs for Local Area Networks (LANs) are low as the devices required to set up the networks are cheap. Initial set-up costs for Wide Area Networks (WANs) are high, because of the devices (Routers, Firewalls etc), cables and manpower required.

Local Area Networks (LANs) running costs are less Wide Area Networks (WANs) running costs are high. Wide Area Networks (WANs) normally have recurring monthly cost as Service Provider access fees.

Wide Area Networks (WANs) are more congested than Local Area Networks (LANs).



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