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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quick Tech Tips: Wide Area Networks - WAN

Wide Area Networks, or WAN, span a large geographical area. A WAN contains a collection of machines intended for running user programs. Transmission rates are typically 2 Mbps, 34 Mbps, 45 Mbps, 155 Mbps, 625 Mbps, etc.
The machines are connected by a subnet whose job is to carry messages from machine to machine. The subnet consists of two distinct components : transmission lines and switching elements. Transmission lines move bits between machines. The switching elements are specialized computers used to connect two or more transmission lines. It is the job of the switching element to decide which outgoing line to choose to forward the data on incoming line.
In WANs, the network contains numerous cables or telephone lines, each one connecting a pair of routers. When a packet is sent from one router to another via one or more intermediate routers, the packet is received at each intermediate router in its entirety, stored there until the required output line is free, and then forwarded. A subnet using this principle is called a point-to-point, store and forward, or packet switched network.
Second option for a WAN is satellite or ground radio system. Each router has an antenna through which it can send and receive. All routers can hear the output from the satellite, and in some cases they can also hear the upward transmissions of their fellow routers to the satellite as well.

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