3.0 WAN Technologies – ICND2 Packet Tracer Lab

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A WAN is a data communications network that covers a relatively broad geographic area and that often uses transmission facilities provided by common carriers, such as telephone companies. WAN technologies generally function at the lower three layers of the OSI reference model: the physical layer, the data link layer, and the network layer.

Point-to-Point Links

A point-to-point link provides a single, pre-established WAN communications path from the customer premises through a carrier network, such as a telephone company, to a remote network. Point-to-point lines are usually leased from a carrier and thus are often called leased lines. For a point-to-point line, the carrier allocates pairs of wire and facility hardware to your line only. These circuits are generally priced based on bandwidth required and distance between the two connected points. Point-to-point links are generally more expensive than shared services such as Frame Relay.

Circuit Switching

Switched circuits allow data connections that can be initiated when needed and terminated when communication is complete. This works much like a normal telephone line works for voice communication. Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is a good example of circuit switching. When a router has data for a remote site, the switched circuit is initiated with the circuit number of the remote network. In the case of ISDN circuits, the device actually places a call to the telephone number of the remote ISDN circuit. When the two networks are connected and authenticated, they can transfer data. When the data transmission is complete, the call can be terminated.

Packet Switching

Packet switching is a WAN technology in which users share common carrier resources. Because this allows the carrier to make more efficient use of its infrastructure, the cost to the customer is generally much better than with point-to-point lines. In a packet switching setup, networks have connections into the carrier’s network, and many customers share the carrier’s network. The carrier can then create virtual circuits between customers’ sites by which packets of data are delivered from one to the other through the network. The section of the carrier’s network that is shared is often referred to as a cloud.

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