LAN stands for Local Area Network and WAN stands for Wide Area Network.

WANs can be expensive. They can also be slow.

Comparison chart



Definition LAN (Local Area Network) is a computer network covering a small geographic area, like a home, office, school, or group of buildings. WAN (Wide Area Network) is a computer network that covers a broad area (e.g., any network whose communications links cross metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries over a long distance).
Speed High speed (1000 mbps) Less speed (150 mbps)
Data transfer rates LANs have a high data transfer rate. WANs have a lower data transfer rate as compared to LANs.
Example Network in an organization can be a LAN Internet is a good example of a WAN
Technology Tend to use certain connectivity technologies, primarily Ethernet and Token Ring WANs tend to use technologies like MPLS, ATM, Frame Relay and X.25 for connectivity over longer distances
Connection One LAN can be connected to other LANs over any distance via telephone lines and radio waves. Computers connected to a wide-area network are often connected through public networks, such as the telephone system. They can also be connected through leased lines or satellites.
Components Layer 2 devices like switches and bridges.Layer 1 devices like hubs and repeaters. Layers 3 devices Routers, Multi-layer Switches and Technology specific devices like ATM or Frame-relay Switches etc.
Fault Tolerance LANs tend to have fewer problems associated with them, as there are smaller number of systems to deal with. WANs tend to be less fault tolerant as they consist of large number of systems.
Data Transmission Error Experiences fewer data transmission errors Experiences more data transmission errors as compared to LAN
Ownership Typically owned, controlled, and managed by a single person or organization. WANs (like the Internet) are not owned by any one organization but rather exist under collective or distributed ownership and management over long distances.
Set-up costs If there is a need to set-up a couple of extra devices on the network, it is not very expensive to do that. For WANs since networks in remote areas have to be connected the set-up costs are higher. However WANs using public networks can be setup very cheaply using just software (VPN etc).
Geographical Spread Have a small geographical range and do not need any leased telecommunication lines Have a large geographical range generally spreading across boundaries and need leased telecommunication lines
Maintenance costs Because it covers a relatively small geographical area, LAN is easier to maintain at relatively low costs. Maintaining WAN is difficult because of its wider geographical coverage and higher maintenance costs.
Bandwidth High bandwidth is available for transmission. Low bandwidth is available for transmission.
Geographical Area LAN covers 100 m WAN covers more than 100 m
Congestion Less congestion More congestion
Spread The network is spread to a very small location The network is spread world wide

Videos explaining the differences

The following video was released by Cisco on YouTube, and also delves into the differences between WAN and LAN:

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Comments: LAN vs WAN

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Anonymous comments (15)

June 18, 2013, 2:02pm

Thank you! Good luck on exams!

— 69.✗.✗.93

April 19, 2013, 12:42am

Thanks so much!

— 37.✗.✗.23

March 6, 2014, 6:19am


— 188.✗.✗.192

July 31, 2013, 9:43am

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— 117.✗.✗.133

May 28, 2012, 10:15am

Very nice, very nice indeed.
Thank You.

— 82.✗.✗.250

December 20, 2011, 5:44pm


— 174.✗.✗.75

May 8, 2014, 4:36pm

Thanks, the info eased my workload!

— 82.✗.✗.18

November 7, 2013, 1:43am

imple and effective for basic understanding

— 117.✗.✗.171

February 23, 2014, 10:42am

It solve my problems

— 223.✗.✗.50

April 25, 2013, 8:31am

great help...........................................

— 46.✗.✗.85

December 5, 2011, 9:43am

thanks for the information

— 203.✗.✗.205

May 6, 2014, 10:19am

Thank you indeed

— 141.✗.✗.107

September 19, 2012, 11:02am

Thanks man, you helped me a tiny bit with my exams but, still helped. :)

— 217.✗.✗.138

November 5, 2012, 1:40pm

You didn't post anywhere where they are alike.

— 207.✗.✗.142

December 2, 2011, 5:26pm

lan is local whereas wan is broader in terms

— 115.✗.✗.169


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