Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope

Short for wide area network, a WAN is a collection of computers and devices connected by a communications network over a wide geographic area. Wide area networks are commonly connected either through the Internet or special arrangements made with phone companies or other service providers.


A WAN is different from a MAN because of the distance between each of the networks. In a WAN, one network may be anywhere from several hundred miles away, to across the globe in a different country. The same difference applies to a LAN. Computers in a LAN are usually close to each other, but a WAN can have larger distances between computers and networks in the WAN.

WAN on home router

On home routers, the port your home network uses to connect to the Internet is labeled as WAN, Network, or Internet. The picture below is an example of the Internet port on the back of a home router, next to four standard Ethernet ports.

WAN port or Internet port on router

What is the largest WAN in the world?

The Internet is a collection of networks and is considered the largest WAN in the world.

Computer acronyms, Enterprise-wide network, HAN, LAN, LPWAN, MAN, Network terms, Port, Ring topology, VSAT, WEP, Wi-Fi