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LANs vs. WANs: Understanding the Difference in Network Engineering Training

Posted on March 22nd, 2019 - Written by: Canadian Business College

network engineering training

Networks play an increasingly important role in today’s businesses, providing the digital infrastructure necessary to collaborate, communicate, and share, whether across the office floor or halfway around the world.

In order to keep these systems running smoothly for users, network administrators play an essential role designing and maintaining the necessary hardware and software, choosing the most appropriate design for the particular needs of each of their clients. In order to do so, they sometimes need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of different types of networks, taking into account a wide variety of considerations including speed, reliability, distance, and cost.

Two common types of networks that network administrators might encounter during their work are local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN). If you’re currently in network engineering training, or considering enrolling, here’s a quick overview to help you understand the differences between the two.

LANs and WANs are Suited for Different Purposes

A LAN network is – as the name implies – a local network, typically covering an area no bigger than a house or the floor of an office building. These types of networks can be set up with a switch and some Ethernet cables, over WiFi, or through some combination of the two. These networks are relatively easy to set up and the only equipment required can typically be bought in any stores that sell basic networking hardware.

WAN networks, in contrast, require a more onerous setup using specialized equipment. They might also involve renting a line from an internet service provider, or using wireless technologies like satellites or cell phone towers. WANs can also be less reliable than LANs.

The benefit of WANs, however, is that they can connect almost any distance, as opposed to LANs, which can only reach as far as the Ethernet cables or WiFi signal being used.

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A LAN network only requires Ethernet cables and a switcher or WiFi to set up

LAN Users Benefit from Much Higher Speeds

One of the most significant advantages that LAN networks offer over WAN networks is their speed. Current LAN networks can commonly support 1 gigabit per second, with high-end networks capable of reaching ten times that. WAN networks, in comparison, are typically much slower.

The speed of a specific LAN or WAN network can also be greatly affected by the type of connections being used. Transferring data over WiFi is generally slower than using a wired connection, for example, although for many users engaging in routine file- and task-sharing, the difference might be negligible given recent advances in WiFi technology.

For uses that require a reliable, high-speed connection, though – transferring large files, for example, or playing online games – professionals in network engineering careers know that a LAN network is the best option.

Professionals in Network Engineering Careers Have a Lot to Consider When Deciding

Ultimately, network administrators will have to draw on their own network engineering training in gauging the needs of their clients and deciding which type of network will work best for them. A number of factors could influence whether a LAN or WAN is the more appropriate option, with cost, area, and bandwidth needs likely to be at the top of the list. In some cases, these networks may also work hand-in-hand, with WANs used to connect remote LANs to each other across great distances.

network engineering careers

CBC’s network engineering training prepares students for a career in network administration

Are you interested in training for a career in network administration?

Contact Canadian Business College for more information about our network engineering diploma program.

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