WANs interconnect LANs, which then provide access to computers or file servers in other locations. Because WANs connect user networks over a large geographical area, they make it possible for businesses to communicate across great distances. WANs allow computers, printers, and other devices on a LAN to be shared with distant locations. WANs provide instant communications across large geographic areas.
Collaboration software provides access to real-time information and resources and allows meetings to be held remotely. WANs have created a new class of workers called telecommuters. These people never have to leave their homes to go to work.
WANs are designed to do the following:
- Operate over a large and geographically separated area
- Allow users to have real-time communication capabilities with other users
- Provide full-time remote resources connected to local services
- Provide e-mail, Internet, file transfer, and e-commerce services
Some common WAN technologies include the following:
- Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
- Digital subscriber line (DSL)
- Frame Relay
- T1, E1, T3, and E3
- Synchronous Optical Network (SONET)