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A network that spans a wide geographical area is referred to as a WAN (Wide Area Network). A WAN consists of a collection of LAN’s (Local Area Networks) connected by a router that maintains both the LAN information and the WAN information. The WAN side of the router will then connect to a communications link such as a leased line (very expensive dedicated line), existing telephone lines or satellite channels.

This form of networking can facilitate communications between computers on opposite sides of the world and the most commonly known WAN in today’s society is the Internet. The majority of WANs are not owned by a specific company, e.g. the Internet, but rather exist under collective or distributed ownership and management. Saying this, LANs can be built specifically to enable private communication between different buildings within the same organisation that are remotely situated.