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WAN Concepts

Chapter Description

What is the purpose of a WAN? In this sample chapter from Connecting Networks v6 Companion Guide, explore how wide-area networks (WANs) operate, what services are available, the differences between private and public WAN technologies, and more.

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Key Terms

This chapter uses the following key terms. You can find the definitions in the Glossary.

service provider

point-to-point topology

hub-and-spoke topology

full mesh topology

dual-homed topology

leased line




single-homed topology

voice over IP (VoIP)

broadband service

digital subscriber line (DSL)

dedicated lines

enterprise network


virtual private networks (VPNs)

Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)

Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA)

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)

Frame Relay

Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)

High-Level Data Link Control (HDLC)

customer premises equipment (CPE)

data communications equipment (DCE)

data terminal equipment (DTE)

demarcation point

local loop


central office (CO)

toll network

dialup modem



Access server

broadband modem

channel service unit/data service unit (CSU/DSU)

WAN switch

circuit-switched network

public switched telephone network (PSTN)

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)

packet-switched network (PSN)

virtual circuit (VC)

data-link connection identifiers (DLCIs)



private WAN infrastructure

public WAN infrastructure

broadband connections

Synchronous Optical Networking (SONET)

Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH)

light-emitting diodes (LEDs)

dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM)



optical carrier (OC)

time-division multiplexed (TDM)

Basic Rate Interface (BRI)

Primary Rate Interface (PRI)

nonbroadcast multi-access (NBMA)

permanent virtual circuits (PVCs)

Metropolitan Ethernet (MetroE)

Ethernet over MPLS (EoMPLS)

Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS)

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)

very small aperture terminal (VSAT)

DSL modem

DSL access multiplexer (DSLAM)

point of presence (POP)

cable modems (CM)


cable modem termination system (CMTS)

municipal Wi-Fi


satellite Internet

3G/4G wireless

Long-Term Evolution (LTE)


site-to-site VPNs

remote-access VPNs

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