A wide area network (wan) is a group of devices located remotely and connected via some electronic means, i.e. telephone system, satellite link, etc.
What this really means is a large group of computers linked together via hardware and software in an unlimited area.
This network may be across town, between cities or between continents. Generally, the network has one or more lans containing servers for file and print applications, printers for document output and a number of workstations for the end users.
All of these resources are normally physically connected locally via some form of cable (i.e. coaxial, twisted pair, etc.) to a hub and/or router which is then connected to a telephone system, satellite link or other form of electronic transmission.
Ideally, the WAN should improve the following:
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