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Networking is the practice of linking computing devices together with hardware and software that supports data communications across these devices.
A LAN supplies networking capability to a group of computers in close proximity to each other such as in an office building, a school or a home. LANs are useful for sharing resources or applications like files, printers and games.
A WAN spans a large geographic area, such as a state, province or country. WANs often connect multiple smaller networks, such as local area networks (LANs) or metro area networks (MANs).
The world's most popular WAN is the Internet. Some segments of the Internet, like VPN-based extranets, are also WANs in themselves. Finally, many WANs are corporate or research networks that utilize leased lines.
WANs generally utilize different and much more expensive networking equipment than do LANs. Key technologies often found in WANs include SONET, Frame Relay, and ATM.