LANs, LocalAreaNetworks, and WANs, Wide Area Networks, were designed to allow computers to communicate with each other to share files and information. As network requirements have continued to grow, with video becoming an extremely popular medium to transmit across a network, so too have the sophistication and speed of LAN and WAN technologies. However, both are different in their operation and therefore consideration needs to be paid to different factors that help to decide if either of these are going to be used.
A LAN(Local Area Network) covers a small area such as a University campus, a business premise ,or even as small as a home network.
A WAN (Wide Area Network) covers a much larger geographical scope such as a British country or an American state. WANS are simply LANS connected together using specialized WAN hardware and WAN technologies.
To Create a LAN, workstations and printers are connected to a switch using Ethernet cables. The Switch uses algorithms to detect and store details of the devices connected to the switch and uses this information to channel data packets out of the correct switch port. The cables used to connect the workstations to switches can be coaxial, copper or fiber. There is a steady increase in the uptake of fiber optic for LAN connectivity. Computer accessories such as printers can be shared by workstations in the same LAN but not on other LANs.
A WAN is an interconnected system of LANS; therefore the WAN link is between each LAN. To create a WAN, therefore, extra hardware such as a router is needed along with a communications link, which is provided by communication service provider. A router is needed to route packets, delivered to the router by a switch, out of a network segment or LAN. The communications link is used as a carrier of these data packets to the destined LAN. The communication links used to connect two WAN points together are either a single point to point Leased Line connection or as part of shared entities packet‐switching or circuit‐switching.