An introduction to computers and computer systems
An introduction to computers and computer systems

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1.4 Wide Area Network (WAN)

Organisations of all sorts – commercial as well as academic and governmental – have LANs on their premises, and many of them connect their LANs together to create an organisation-wide network referred to as a wide area network (WAN).

Connecting an organisation’s LANs across many sites will involve leased telecommunication lines, in the same way as you lease as a line to connect to the internet from your home hub router.

There are many related acronyms that have been devised over the years to describe various network configurations. One such example is Metropolitan Area Network (MAN), in which a city or district, has a network within its boundaries to provide connectivity. However, whatever acronym is used, they are only variations on either a LAN or a WAN. In the example of a MAN, that is a WAN, one usually operated by the local government of the city or district to enhance the business opportunities in its area.

You should be aware that when we say ‘wires’ when discussing networks, the ‘wire’ may not be wire at all! For the short distances involved in LANS, generally copper wire is used, but for WANS to meet the challenges of greater distance and the greater amounts of data they have to transmit, other technologies are used, such as optical fibres. These technologies are hidden from the user. One network technology, however, is not, and that’s the absence of wires altogether.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371