Invalid Date  ·  articles

What is WAN? A beginner's guide to Wide Area Networks

In today's digitally interconnected world, understanding the fundamentals of networking, especially WANs, is paramount. This guide aims to explain the basics of WAN, and provide you with insights into their significance and deployment options.

Knowledge Centre
Invalid Date

Wide Area Network: A Beginner's Guide to WAN

What is a Wide Area Network?

At its core, a Wide Area Network (WAN) is a network that spans over a large geographical area, connecting multiple smaller networks such as Local Area Networks (LANs) and Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs). Unlike LANs, which typically cover a single building or campus, WANs extend over vast distances, often across cities, countries, or even continents.

Understanding the distinction between Tier 1 and Tier 2 network service providers is essential in grasping the landscape of WANs. Tier 1 providers own and operate their global networks, offering extensive reach and reliability. In contrast, Tier 2 providers lease network infrastructure from Tier 1 providers, focusing on regional or local coverage.

Why are WANs important?

WANs play a pivotal role in facilitating global connectivity, enabling businesses to communicate and transact seamlessly across different locations. They empower organisations to expand their reach, access remote resources, and collaborate effectively in real-time. With the advent of Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN), managing and optimising network resources has become more efficient and cost-effective, further enhancing the importance of WANs in today's digital ecosystem.

How do WANs work?

From traditional leased lines to modern broadband and MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching), WANs utilise various technologies to transmit data across vast distances. Data transmission in WANs involves encapsulating data packets, routing them through interconnected devices such as routers and switches, and ensuring reliable delivery to their intended destinations.

What to look for in a WAN provider

Choosing the right WAN provider is crucial for ensuring seamless connectivity and optimal performance. Look for providers that offer scalable solutions, robust security measures, and proactive monitoring capabilities. With the emergence of Network-as-a-Service (NaaS), organisations now have the flexibility to leverage WAN services on a subscription basis, tailoring their network infrastructure to meet evolving business needs.

What options do Cloud Gateway offer?

Configuring your WAN with Cloud Gateway is a similar process to other providers, namely, the delivery of physical circuits to your site(s) and configuration of a network device, and Customer Premises Equipment (CPE).

We’ll work with you to understand your requirements and propose a suitable deployment of Managed WAN Services - with appropriate access option(s), backup line(s) and bandwidths. For tail circuits, bandwidth options range from 10Mbps to 10Gbps and can be provided through the following methods:

  • Ethernet over Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)

  • Ethernet over Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)

  • Fibre-based Ethernet Service (Leased Lines)

  • Internet Breakout

With Cloud Gateway, it is our platform and service that sets us apart. By connecting your WAN infrastructure to our platform, we can provide seamless and transparent connectivity across your estate, bringing sites, users, clouds and data centres into the same ecosystem.

As a managed service, we manage the connectivity and routing policy for you, reducing the burden on your IT team. You can also implement security functions like FWaaS, SWG and WAF, protecting all your traffic as part of a comprehensive network security posture.


Wide Area Networks (WANs) are the backbone of global connectivity, enabling businesses to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. If you’re ready to harness the power of WAN for your business, we invite you to explore our resources and get in touch with Cloud Gateway, a trusted partner in building robust and scalable network solutions.

Contact us now!