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A wide area network (WAN) is a computer network that spans across great distances typically a region or country. They can be used to transmit data to connect separate network structures together. WAN’s can be connect local area networks by physical circuits or through packet switching as a virtual connection.

While WAN’s are often private networks to retain information in a single company or business, they can also be set up by an internet service provider to connect a customer’s local area network to the internet. Unlike its counterpart, Local Area Network (LAN), wide area networks allow for much larger and more intricate networks. They can cover a large amount of distance.


Wide Area Ethernet or sometimes known as Ethernet WAN is a service delivered by network and telecom providers that bring a high-speed connectivity between sites utilizing a standardized Ethernet connection.  It is brings a similar result that a more traditional T1 or TDM based solution have provided in the past but does it with a faster and higher bandwidth capacity.  Which enables customers to enable high bandwidth applications like video applications or large file transmissions.


Wide Area Ethernet use Ethernet handoff instead of costly TDM interfaces, where the cost of Ethernet devices are extremely low making the hardware requirements much more cost effective.  Also give a customer an effective private network interconnecting sites and keeping their traffic private, and secure.

Wide Area Ethernet is connected on a Layer 2 basis so applications that need the simplicity and speed of acting like they are on the network connection are allow to function that way.  Customers also have the flexibility to convert the Layer 2 network into a routed layer 3 Network as well.


Virtual Private LAN Services (VPLS) is another version of Layer 2 networking that is a subset of WAE.  It allows customers who have nationwide networks that act and feel like a Layer connection allowing for certain applications that perform best like backup applications to behave as if they are on the same network.

Ethernet technologies have ubiquitous use allowing network professionals to deal with equipment they are comfortable with. According to a study from the Insight Research Corp., the Carrier Ethernet services market is forecast to increase from $2.4 billion in 2009 to nearly $8.8 billion by 2015.


A WAN should only occur in large environments. This is a great option as you are connecting from house to house, city to city and/or country to country. The internet is a great example of WAN.

WAN does tend to have slower speeds than a LAN due to the length of the network. It is typically much more expensive as well, especially if it is a private WAN. The connection tends to be harder to set up and there are a lot of different ways they can be set up.


Panel Members:

  • Rich Prohaska: Sales engineer Level 3
  • Lee Berk: Sales Engineering at Comcast
  • Tony Lucero: Lead Sales Engineer at CenturyLink
  • Tyler Smith: Telarus Engineer

Questions posed to panel members include:

  1. Question for Rich: What are the differences between Level 3 Network which is more traditional MPLS environment versus a layer 2 offering that a lot of folks bring to the table?
  2. Question for Lee: Some think of Comcast as more of a regional player, and being able to provide network services in their territory, but how does a nationwide need come to play and how does Comcast service folks that are out of your traditional footprint?
  3. Question for Tony: For customers wanting to increase their bandwidth, what they have today is maybe an MPLS network that is maybe T1 based and is gobbling up all that bandwidth with 10 individuals sharing that T1.  How have you seen bandwidth requirements change and what is CenturyLink doing to address those needs?
  4. Question for Rich: As it relates to the difference from MPLS and VPLS.  VPLS isn’t a widely adopted technology.  Why would a customer want to use VPLS?
  5. Question for Lee: In regards to the needs that come with private bandwidth versus public bandwidth.  A lot of traditional designs are built on bringing a private network to interconnect branch locations and headquarter locations and data centers where it might have a single source for internet, but if I bring all of that traffic and backhaul it to one primary source, I solve a security need, but I create some challenges on overall bandwidth availability.  As applications move into the cloud, the need for more bandwidth is growing.  What private and public solutions are available?
  6. Question for Tony: In that scenario, a customer that has that dual need, is there a solution that gives them peace of mind that has that hybrid connection with private and public bandwidth, is there a firewall solution or something that is not provisioned as a physical environment, but as a cloud solution?
  7. Question for panel from Audience: If the main link fails, can it route over a backup or cellular connection and still have the firewall protection working?
  8. Question for panel from Audience:  Ethernet becomes the building block for most businesses networks for scalability purposes, what other services are carriers layering on top of Ethernet connections like data center services, hosted VoIP, or SIP trunking?
  9. Question for panel from Audience: Can your cloud firewalls cover mobility and smart devices yet? Are there any firewall solutions for BYOD-friendly business networks?