What is Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN)?

Local Area Network (LAN)

A Local Area Network (LAN) is a network system in which computers are interconnected in a limited geographical area, such as network of computers in college computer laboratory or network of computers in office building etc. “When several Personal Computers are connected together through Ethernet cards in the limited area is called Local Area Network.”


The smallest network size is a local area network. LANs are normally contained in a building or small group of buildings. LAN provides the high speed, small error counts and inexpensive price. LANs do not use the telephone network.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

Local Area Networks work well, but have physical and distance limitations. Because they are not sufficient for all business communication, there must be connectivity between LANs and other types of environments. Using components such as bridges, routers, modem, and communication service providers, the LAN can be expanded from an operation that serves a local area to one that can support data communications over a city, a state, a country, or even the world. When a network does this, it is called a Wide Area Network (WAN).


WANs normally use connections that travel all over the country or world. For this reason they are usually slower than LANs. They also require a lot of specialized equipment and protocols. Most widely used protocol in WANs is X.25, which is formulated by CCITT.

Example of a WAN:

The biggest example of Wide Area Network (WAN) is Internet. Internet is a network of a large number of computers networks around the world. Through this system millions of computers have been linked together which may be thousands of miles apart from each other. Several hundred million bytes of data can be transferred from one place (city, state, country) to another by using Internet.

The Difference between LAN and WAN:

The major difference between LAN and WAN is that, the LAN is a network which is used to connect the computers with in the limited area (office, building/buildings and vicinity) but the WAN is a network which is used to connect the computer which are lying at long distances (between different cities, states and countries) away from each other. Both LAN and WAN are networks of computers. They are based on similar concepts of computer networking to share data and information between computers. But their working techniques and applications are different.

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