The Difference Between LAN and WAN Networks

The Difference Between LAN and WAN Networks

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The network of interconnected servers, devices, and workstations that you configure for your business will serve as the backbone of your organization. To keep your operations running smoothly and securely, you must ensure that your communication network has been optimized for your specific application.

Currently, the two main types of network options are local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN). Understanding how each network functions and what its key capabilities include will help you decide which option best suits your business’s unique needs. Below, we will address the key differences between LAN and WAN networks.

Local Area Network (LAN)

A local area network refers to a computer network that connects devices together within a smaller area, such as a single building or a group of vicinal buildings. The connections created within the network must have a high speed and a relatively inexpensive operation.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

A wide area network is a computer network that consists of multiple LANs and is not restricted to a geographical location. In a WAN, the devices connected may be located far apart, but may be limited within the bounds of a state, country, or enterprise.

Key Differences Between LAN and WAN

  • Area of Coverage: Perhaps the most notable difference between LANs and WANs is the area they cover. While LANs only cover a small geographical area, WANs offer far more coverage. That being said, the reach of a LAN can be broadened through the use of certain networking devices such as ethernet extenders.
  • Speed: In terms of speed, LAN processes data more quickly than a WAN.
  • Congestion: Local area networks experience less congestion than wide area networks.
  • Data Transfer Rates: WANs have a lower data transfer rate than LANs, which means they can’t process as many data blocks through a communication link as quickly.
  • Fault Tolerance: WAN offers less fault tolerance than LAN.
  • Design and Maintenance: The process of designing and maintaining a LAN network proves easier than a WAN.