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Wide Area Network

As the use of internet increases and the world wide web becomes essential to data transmission and exchange, the development of internet networks requires a constant adaptation and evolution of its capabilities, both in hardware and cybernetic components, and this in turn contributes to the expansion of telecommunication systems.  A telecommunications network itself becomes a world in small scale considering the amount of data exchange and resource sharing that takes place on it, and depending on the needs of a community, the development of a network is define by the reach of it within the range of the area intended to serve.  A Wide Area Network is only one of such forms of telecommunications networks intended to serve a large geographic area that might cover the whole of a state, province or even a country.  WAMs are like the largest breeds of networks which also include Local Area Network- LAN-, and Metropolitan Area Networks- or MAN. But exactly, what is a wide area network? WAMs are frequently formed by clusters of small local networks which act as local receptors, processors or depositories of data, connecting computers and servers from several communities to form a true web of information exchange between private users, businesses, government agencies, social institutions, transportation services, etc. The development of WAMs in the last ten years has spawned some of the greatest, worldwide coverage telecommunication networks that provide the latest data right from the place it is generated in a matter of minutes  or even seconds.  WAMs are also linking large communities that happen to share a common interest in data sharing, whether it is for business, political, religious, or cultural purposes, and because WAMs transmit information withing large areas, it is already common to see giant transnational telecommunication networks that take advantage of the facilities offered in one particular region for its creation, development, expansion and maintenance.  Some of these incredibly large WAMs can be found in Europe, where the large availability of capital, human talent, technology and research have made the continent a pioneer in the creation of shared networks that benefit the citizens of over twenty countries. One of this examples is the French language network TV5, which not only covers of continental French speaking countries- France, Belgium and Switzerland-, but has a global reach that covers the whole of the French speaking world, from countries in Western Africa to the Americas, the middle east and South East Asia.

Networks are divided in categories depending their reach within a certain geographic area:

  • Local Area Network - LAN-: created to connect computers in a small area like a school, a building, a college campus, etc.
  • Metropolitan Area Network - MAN-: this is a network usually designed to provide service to an urban area of a town or a city
  • Wide Area Network- WAN -: as explained before, their reach can cover vast areas of several hundreds or even thousands of miles wide. 
Telecommunication networks have become essential for the development of societies everywhere the access to fresh, up-to-date data contributes to the growth and expansion of businesses. "With coverage in a broad area, a wide area network allows companies to make use of common resources in order to operate. For example, many retail drugstores make use of a wide area network as part of their support to customers who fill prescriptions with one of their stores. Once in the common customer database for the pharmacy, the client is free to fill a prescription at any of the company’s locations, even while vacationing in another state." -Wise Geek on: What is a Wide Area Network.

The basics for creating a Wide Area Network consist on:
  • A set of several computers located in the desired area to cover
  • An ISP which acts as the heart and/or brain of the network
  • A web of connecting devices which act as bridges between the server and each individual computer. The simplest of the is usually a telephone line, but nowadays these webs are made of fiber optics. It was in the 1990's that the use of ISDN - integrated services digital network- became in high demand due to the fast and efficient service obtained as opposed to regular telephone lines, but then fiber optics happened to be even better. Nowadays, wireless service
References: Baltzan: "Business Information Driven Systems", McGraw-Hill.
                Wise Geek: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-wide-area-network.htm
                For visuals, please refer to my website: http://sites.google.com/site/globalcommunicationsorg/home