What is Ethernet WAN (Wide Area Network) | Neos Networks

What is Ethernet WAN (Wide Area Network)

Ethernet WAN, also known as Ethernet wide area network or Wide Area Ethernet, is a type of wide area network. It allows a business to seamlessly extend its Ethernet network beyond its location, connecting local area networks (LANs) together. This enables reliable, higher-bandwidth connectivity between sites, while using a standardised Ethernet connection.

How does Ethernet WAN work?

Ethernet WAN works by physically connecting separate network structures together using fibre optic cable and an Ethernet interface, rather than utilising the time-division multiplexing (TDM) method.

TDM is a way of combining multiple data streams in a single signal. In summary, this is done by separating the signal into very short segments, then reassembling them at the receiving end. However, Ethernet WAN is the better option for two main reasons. The cost of Ethernet devices is much lower than TDM, and Ethernet WAN provides businesses with a faster private network of interconnecting sites, ensuring traffic remains safe and secure.

In addition, as businesses use Ethernet local area networks (LANs) to communicate within each of their locations, it often makes sense to use Ethernet technology to extend communications beyond each individual location.

What’s the difference between Ethernet WAN and Ethernet LAN?

Although Ethernet LAN and Ethernet WAN both employ fibre optic cable, they operate in different ways. The fundamental difference between Ethernet WAN and Ethernet LAN is that an Ethernet LAN is a network that operates within a small geographical area, such as an office or industrial facility, whereas an Ethernet WAN covers a larger area, such as a city or a country. In its simplest form, an Ethernet WAN is a collection of Ethernet LANs.

Individually, the LANs use layer 1 (physical) and layer 2 (data link) devices, such as switches, hubs and bridges, plus layer 3 (network) devices. The WAN is then typically built using layer 3 devices, such as routers and multi-layer switches, to connect the infrastructure together.

What’s the purpose of a wide area network (WAN) connection?

WANs have many uses and benefits. Without them, businesses would be restricted in their growth, and would incur prohibitive costs when communicating between locations.

Uses of WAN

Businesses use WANs to communicate using voice and video, access data storage and create remote backups, as well as to host applications and connect to them in the cloud. When there’s a need to connect securely, quickly and reliably to people or data that reside beyond the physical office location, it’s likely that a WAN will make it happen.

Benefits of WAN

As well as being able to cover huge geographical areas, connecting offices and facilities situated at different locations, advantages of using a WAN include:

  • A continuously reliable and stable connection, with guaranteed uptime backed up by robust SLAs.
  • No overprovisioning of servers and other network assets, because all branch files and backups can be supported at a single location. A WAN allows a business to centralise its data without compromising on speed of access or reliability of service.
  • No duplication of data or version control issues, as all files are shared among all authorised users, and everyone has access to the latest versions.
  • Improvements in employee productivity, with higher bandwidths that allow for faster, more collaborative communications.

What are the different types of WAN technologies?

Wide area networks and managed WAN services are underpinned by a range of different technologies. These include:

  • Frame relay, which is a technology for transmitting data between LANs using packet switching.
  • MPLS, or Multiprotocol Label Switching, a network routing technique that uses short path labels to avoid time-consuming table lookups.
  • Overlay networks, where software is used to create a virtual network on top of another network, usually to ensure greater security for data communications.
  • Packet over SONET or SDH, which is a protocol that defines how point-to-point links communicate when using optical fibre and Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) or Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) communication protocols.
  • Packet switching, where the transmission is broken into several parts, called packets, which are sent independently, over different routes, and in triplicate. Once they reach the destination, at least two copies have to match.
  • Routers, which are used to connect LANs together to form a WAN.
  • SD-WAN, or Software Defined Wide Area Networking, which is an easily deployed overlay network solution. It adds control to Hybrid WAN, and allows greater visibility of the entire network estate, helping businesses optimise their networks and become more efficient.
  • TCP/IP, or Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, which is used to interconnect network devices across the internet and other networks.

What is the future of Ethernet WAN?

As digital transformation continues to present new opportunities, and businesses evaluate their cloud strategies, more are exploiting leading edge technologies to improve their competitive position. The future of Ethernet WAN points to ultrafast performance, with a roadmap that suggests speeds of over 400Gbps in the next five years.

That means the use of advanced, bandwidth-hungry applications, IoT technologies and edge devices won’t add undue strain to the network, allowing shrewd and knowledgeable businesses to thrive in the new digital world. And with cybercrime continuing to escalate, the latest WAN technologies help maintain a secure network.

These are just some of the compelling reasons pointing businesses in the direction of Ethernet WAN. So, if you’re considering your next connectivity move, contact one of our experts today and we’ll help you make the most of the opportunity.


You might also like

  • Page

What is SD-WAN?

We can connect you anywhere in the UK

Discover our network reach

Check your connectivity