What is a Wide-Area Network (WAN)? The Benefits and Challenges That Come With a WAN

WAN connectivity represented by icons linked with solid and dotted lines.

A Wide-area network (WAN) connects local-area networks (LANs) to create a fast and reliable means for multiple company sites and services to interact and exchange data. A WAN can be used to store and transmit data between sites or services anywhere in the world, and it must be accessed via a virtual private network (VPN) or other secure means set up by the company operating the network. This solution is perfect for companies that have multiple working sites across the country or world that must exchange data or communications reliably with each other and cloud services. In this article we cover why a company would want to use a WAN and some of the challenges the solutions it presents.

A WAN’s Purpose

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Companies use wide-area networks to connect people and services that are geographically far apart. For a company, this can mean ensuring remote workers can access the main office’s network no matter where in the world they are working. A wide-area network can also help connect devices that are not in the company’s office to the network through a secure and reliable connection to ensure both employees and customers can use services with ease. In general, anytime a business needs to establish communications across long distances, exchange information with remote customers, or connect to remote/cloud services, a WAN can be an invaluable piece of digital infrastructure.

Benefits to Using a WAN

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The primary benefit a WAN offers is flexibility. By implementing a wide-area network, a company can improve the communication and data transfer between the main office’s network and remote employees, backup services, cloud resources, and customers. Additionally, a wide-area network can help a business scale easily as they onboard more employees and open new company sites across the world. These networks help to centralize a business’ digital infrastructure and can provide increased bandwidth for data transfer with the right setup. WANs also have different versions, such as SD-WANs or wired wide-area networks, which provide customization for companies that need their wide-area network to meet unique circumstances.

WAN Challenges

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A primary challenge that comes with a wide-area network is the upfront cost of setting up the wide-area network. These networks depend on special routers and other equipment that must be properly set up to operate the network securely and efficiently. Also, a wide-area network requires optimization that can be complex or handled by a more expensive SD-WAN setup. Additionally, wide-area networks are vulnerable to developing security gaps as more users and services are brought onto the network. Monitoring and remediating these security gaps can add additional costs as on-site IT team hours, security assessments, and IT consultant expertise are needed to keep the network running as securely as possible.


For a growing business that plans to onboard remote workers, utilize valuable cloud services, and open company sites across large areas, a wide-area network can provide the best level of connectivity and reliability needed to keep the business moving. However, a business should make sure a wide-area network is the best solution for their unique situation, and it is important to know all the options available for setting one up. That’s why our team here at Robinett Consulting want to start that conversation today! Our team of cybersecurity experts can help your business determine if a WAN is the best solution for you and how you can implement one that works for you and meets your budget!

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