A wide area network or WAN is a computer network covering multiple smaller networks, such as local area networks (LANs) or metropolitan area networks(MANs)
Typically, a Wan consists of a number of interconnected switching nodes. A transmission from any one device is routed through these internal nodes to the specified destination device. These nodes are not concerned with the content of the data; rather, their purpose is to provide a switching facility that will move the data from node to node until they reach their destination. Traditionally, WANs have been implemented using either circuit switching or packet switching technologies. More recently, frame relay and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) networks have assumed major roles. Frame relay provides higher data rates, lowar costs, efficient handling of bursty data transmission in less expenditure. ATM offer more bandwidth to end users at less cost.
The Internet is the best known example of WAN. Some segments of the internet are also WANs in themselves. The Internet is a system of linked networks that are worldwide in scope and facilate data communication services such as remote login, file transfer, e-mail, the world wide web etc. with the rise in demand for connectivity, the internet has become a communications highway for millions of users. The internet was initially restricted to military and academic institutions, but now it is a full fledged conduit for any and all forms of information and commerce. Internet websites now provide personal, educational, political and economic resources to every corner of the planet.