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What is a WWAN?

A wireless wide area network (WWAN), is a form of wireless network. The larger size of a wide area network compared to a local area network requires differences in technology. Wireless networks of all sizes deliver data in the form of telephone calls, web pages, and streaming video.

A WWAN often differs from wireless local area network (WLAN) by using mobile telecommunication cellular network technologies such as LTE, WiMAX (often called a wireless metropolitan area network or WMAN), UMTS, CDMA2000, GSM, cellular digital packet data (CDPD) and Mobitex to transfer data. It can also use Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS) or Wi-Fi to provide Internet access. These technologies are offered regionally, nationwide, or even globally and are provided by a wireless service provider. WWAN connectivity allows a user with a laptop and a WWAN card to surf the web, check email, or connect to a virtual private network (VPN) from anywhere within the regional boundaries of cellular service. Various computers can have integrated WWAN capabilities.

Since radio communications systems do not provide a physically secure connection path, WWANs typically incorporate encryption and authentication methods to make them more secure. Unfortunately some of the early GSM encryption techniques were flawed, and security experts have issued warnings that cellular communication, including WWAN, is no longer secure.[1] UMTS (3G) encryption was developed later and has yet to be broken.

Examples of providers for WWAN in the US include T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T. Satellite Internet access can also be used over a wide area.

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