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  1. Introduction
  2. Network Topology
  3. Hardware Connections
  4. TCP/IP Ports and Addresses
  5. Network Protocol Levels
  6. Data Link Layer and IEEE
  7. Network Protocol Categories
  8. Repeaters, Bridges, Routers
  9. ARP and RARP Address Translation
  10. Basic Addressing
  11. IP (Network)
  12. TCP (Transport)
  13. UDP (Transport)
  14. ICMP
  15. Hardware Cabling
  16. Wireless media
  17. Outside Connections
  18. Ethernet
  19. Token Ring
  20. ARCnet
  21. AppleTalk
  22. FDDI
  23. IPX/SPX
  24. NetBEUI
  25. AppleTalk
  26. SNA
  27. Others
  28. Simple Routing
  29. More Complex Routing
  30. IP Masquerading
  31. Firewalls
  32. Domain Name Service (DNS)
  33. Virtual Private Networking
  34. DHCP
  35. BOOTP
  36. RPC and NFS
  37. Broadcasting and Multicasting
  38. IGMP
  39. Dynamic Routing Protocols
  40. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
  41. Simple Network Management Protocol
  42. Network Services
  43. Installing Drivers
  44. Network Operating Systems
  45. Applications
  46. Wide Area Networks
  47. Backing up the network
  48. Fault Tolerance
  49. Troubleshooting
  50. Commonly used Network Ports
  51. Networking Terms and Definitions
  52. Networking RFCs and Protocols
  53. Further Reading
  54. Credits

Wide Area Networks

Wide Area Networks (WAN) refers to the technologies used to connect offices at remote loactions. The size of a network is limited due to size and distance constraints. However networks may be connected over a high speed communications link (called a WAN link) to link them together and thus become a WAN. WAN links are usually:

  • Dial up connection
  • Dedicated connection - It is a permanent full time connection. When a dedicated connection is used, the cable is leased rather than a part of the cable bandwidth and the user has exclusive use.
  • Switched network - Several users share the same line or the bandwidth of the line. There are two types of switched networks:
    1. Circuit switching - This is a temporary connection between two points such as dial-up or ISDN.
    2. Packet switching - This is a connection between multiple points. It breaks data down into small packets to be sent across the network. A virtual circuit can improve performance by establishing a set path for data transmission. This will shave some overhead of a packet switching network. A variant of packet switching is called cell-switching where the data is broken into small cells with a fixed length.

WAN Connection Technologies

  • X.25 - This is a set of protocols developed by the CCITT/ITU which specifies how to connect computer devices over a internetwork. These protocols use a great deal of error checking for use over unreliable telephone lines. Their speed is about 64Kbps. Normally X.25 is used on packed switching PDNs (Public Data Networks). A line must be leased from the LAN to a PDN to connect to an X.25 network. A PAD (packet assembler/disassembler) or an X.25 interface is used on a computer to connect to the X.25 network. CCITT is an abbreviation for International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee. The ITU is the International Telecommunication Union.
  • Frame Relay - Error checking is handled by devices at both sides of the connection. Frame relay uses frames of varying length and it operates at the data link layer of the OSI model. A permanent virtual circuit (PVC) is established between two points on the network. Frame relay speed is between 56Kbps and 1.544Mbps. Frame relay networks provide a high-speed connection up to 1.544Mbps using variable-length packet-switching over digital fiber-optic media.
  • Switched Multi-megabit Data Service (SMDS) - Uses fixed length cell switching and runs at speeds of 1.533 to 45Mbps. It provides no error checking and assumes devices at both ends provide error checking.
  • Telephone connections
    • Dial up
    • Leased lines - These are dedicated analog lines or digital lines. Dedicated digital lines are called digital data service (DDS) lines. A modem is used to connect to analog lines, and a Channel Service Unit/Data Service Unit or Digital Service Unit(CSU/DSU) is used to connect to digital lines. The DSU connects to the LAN and the CSU connects to the line.
    • T Carrier lines - Multiplexors are used to allow several channels on one line. The T1 line is basic T Carrier service. The available channels may be used separately for data or voice transmissions or they may be combined for more transmission bandwidth. The 64Kbps data transmission rate is referred to as DS-0 (Digital Signal level 0) and a full T1 line is referred to as DS-1.
      SignalSystemTotal KbpsChannelsNumber of equivalent T1 lines
      DS-1T11544241
      DS-2T26312964
      DS-3T34473667228
      DS-4T427476040323668

      T1 and T3 lines are the most common lines in use today. T1 and T2 lines can use standard copper wire. T3 and T4 lines require fiber-optic cable or other high-speed media. These lines may be leased partially called fractional T1 or fractional T3 which means a customer can lease a certain number of channels on the line. A CSU/DSU and a bridge or router is required to connect to a T1 line.

    • Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) - Comes in two types and converts analog signals to digital for transmission.
      • Basic Rate ISDN (BRI) - Two 64Kbps B-channels with one 16Kbps D channel. The D-channel is used tor call control and setup.
      • Primary Rate ISDN (PRI) - 23 B-channels and one D channel.
      A device resembling a modem (called an ISDN modem) is used to connect to ISDN. The computer and telephone line are plugged into it.
    • Switched-56 - A switched line similar to a leased line where customers pay for the time they use the line.
  • Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) - May be used over a variety of media with both baseband and broadband systems. It uses fixed length data packets of 53 bytes called cell switching. 5 bytes contain header information. It uses hardware devices to perform the switching of the data. Speeds of up to 622 Mbps can be achieved. Error checking is done at the receiving device, not by ATM. A permanent virtual connection is established (PVC).
  • Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) - a physical layer standard that defines voice, data, and video delivery methods over fiber optic media. It defines data rates in terms of optical carrier (OC) levels. The transmission rate of OC-1 is 51.8 Mbps. Each level runs at a multiple of the first. The OC-5 data rate is 5 times 51.8 Mbps which is 259 Mbps. SONET also defines synchronous transport signals (STS) for copper media which use the same speed scale of OC levels. STS-3 runs at the same speed of OC-3. Mesh or ring topology is used to support SONET. SONET uses multiplexing. The ITU has incorporated SONET into their Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) recommendations.