Setting up your home networking using a router can be quite confusing as there is a wide spectrum of technical terms such as LAN, WAN, Ethernet, CAT5e, and so on. Without understanding the functionality of these, you’ll have a hard time completing the set-up process. Moreover, if it’s your first time setting up your home networking, then you might have difficulty in understanding the use of LAN and WAN ports.
If LAN is the network for computers, which are connected to each other over the router, then what is a WAN port? This is a common question that often occurs to people doing their home networking. So, let’s delve further into what a WAN port is and its use on the router.
But before you proceed to understand the WAN port, you need to know some basics of wired and wireless networking.
Wired and Wireless Network
If you’re setting up a home network, then you have two ways of doing it – wired and wireless. Wired Network, as the term itself suggests, is the local network wherein a group of devices is connected using cables and also a router. In a wired network, the cables are primarily connected to the router, the central device of the home network. The router has LAN and WAN ports.
On the other hand, the wireless network works on Wi-Fi technology. Although it is quite similar to the wired network, it doesn’t require any ports since it’s wireless. Just one antenna, an access point, and a Wi-Fi client are enough to support the home network.
Moreover, as mentioned before, the LAN and WAN ports are the parts of wired networking. So, before you understand what a WAN port is, take a look at what is a LAN port. LAN, or Local Area Network, is the point that hosts a network of up to four wired networking devices. Generally, in a home router, you can find only 4 LAN ports. However, you can add more LAN connections by adding a switch or hub and this is added to the existing network.
Further, up to 250 devices can be connected to a home router and this makes it perfectly suitable for home and small businesses. Another important aspect of LAN ports is the speed, which is categorized into Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet. While the Ethernet offers 100 megabits per second, the Gigabit Ethernet offers 1 gigabit per second. On the whole, the speed difference between Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet is just a matter of fraction.
Now, let’s understand what is a WAN port?
WAN or Wide Area Network, is a socket or port present on the network device, which is connected through cables to an external network, primarily known as the Internet. In other words, it is the uplink to the Internet. Unlike the LAN port, which is responsible for connecting the computer and other devices, the WAN port, connects to the modem or the wall that is given by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). To get your Internet connectivity, the WAN port is majorly responsible but without connecting a cable to it, you won’t get access to the Internet. So, once your WAN port is connected to the modem via a cable, you can watch YouTube videos; download movies and songs, and binge watch Netflix, all without any interruption.
There is more to it, as WANs are a bit complicated compared to the LANs, especially ones for office purposes. In the case of private WAN, it is mostly used by companies to build a connection within the company networks. Even though the LAN helps in connecting the devices, the WAN is the one that connects the LANs so that the company can share their files.
Also, when the WAN is connecting LANs over the Internet, there are chances of leakage and stealing of confidential data. So, businesses encrypt their files over the internet by using VPN tunnels to ensure secure connections. However, for home users, the WAN isn’t as complicated as the company ones.
Above all, in understanding the WAN port, it is also important to know that without a router, the outgoing connection of the Internet won’t be possible. The WAN port redirects outgoing and incoming internet traffic. So, the router is critically important to the WAN connection.
With this article, we have given you a clear picture of what is a WAN port and its purposes. So, the next time you are trying to build a home network, don’t forget to connect the WAN port to the router properly for unprecedented internet connectivity.