A wide area network (WAN) is a telecommunications network or computer network that extends over a large geographical distance. Wide area networks are often established with leased telecommunication circuits.
Business, education and government entities use wide area networks to relay data to staff, students, clients, buyers, and suppliers from various locations across the world. In essence, this mode of telecommunication allows a business to effectively carry out its daily function regardless of location. The Internet may be considered a WAN.
Related terms for other types of networks are personal area networks (PANs), local area networks (LANs), campus area networks (CANs), or metropolitan area networks (MANs) which are usually limited to a room, building, campus or specific metropolitan area respectively.