By the end of this article, you shall have realised some very interesting facts. Facts that may seem out of the box but true nonetheless. Needless to point out that quite a huge number of people are not at all aware of these plain differences and some, some are out-rightly escaped by the existence of WAN and LAN. Sure, over 47% of the world is connected to the internet as at now but I’ll note that most of them just know that – the internet. Lets indulge ourselves in unriddling these concepts, shall we?
To start us off is the all too popular internet. What is it?
The first thing you need to note is that the word internet is actually a contraction of two words; interconnected network. By definition, the internet is a global interconnection of computer networks linking devices world wide using the internet protocol suite. The internet protocol suite is loosely defined; as a set of rules used by devices to relay and receive data. But that definition will just not cut it, we need a deeper understanding.
The internet protocol suite is founded on two protocols; the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP). This causes the more common reference as the TCP/IP. Extending the earlier definition of the internet protocol suite, it can be defined as a conceptual model and set of communication protocols used on the internet. This article shall not cover in detail this protocol as it’s intended purpose is the general concept of the internet.
To fully comprehend the enormous nature of the internet, you need to visualise some few facts. The over 26 billion devices connected to the internet, the over 1.9 billion websites currently active, over 3.5 billion people who access the internet and that is not all. We haven’t considered the amount of data on the internet. To give you a perspective, we shall consider Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon who hold over 1,200 million terabytes of data… and that is just a fraction, a small fraction. It is important to note that the internet is a WAN, getting us to the next point.
What is a WAN?
WAN is an abbreviation for Wide Area Network. This is a type of a computer network that spans over a large geographical area and is consistent of two or more smaller networks. WAN is a type of a computer network while the Internet is a type of a WAN. Wide area networks can span various areas from counties to regions and countries and even globally. They have no limit, unless we are talking about outer space. That is alien territory for this type of network.
What of the network that connects organisations, schools and buildings locally? That we call the Local Area Network (LAN). LAN is a computer network that connects devices in a limited area. It important to note that local area networks can be cabled or wireless.
Computer networking is a broad concept that can hardly be covered in a 100-paged book. What is important is to understand the concepts, then advance to the details making sure no confusion arises.