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A wide area network (WAN) refers to a data communications network which geographically covers distances greater than one kilometer.[1] The Internet interconnects these networks, making it the world's largest WAN, or "network of networks".[2] Wireless WANs connected through cellular data services have since become a commonly used form of wide area networking.[3]


The first known wide area network was created by the United States Air Force in the late 1950s to interconnect sites in the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) radar defense system.[2] Early WANs were built on existing telephone lines.[3] Dedicated serial lines were used to improve performance over long distances.[1]

In 2007, the first iPhone accessed cellular network data through EDGE, an advancement of early 2G technology.[4] The iPhone 3G was launched in 2008 with faster 3G technology.[5] The iPhone 5 was launched in 2012 with LTE (4G) technology.[6] The iPhone 12 lineup was launched in 2020 with 5G technology, rivaling broadband speeds.[7][8] Some cellular carriers allow iPhones to share their Internet connection to Macs and PCs.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wide area network at the Free On-Line Dictionary Of Computing. 1994-11-24. Accessed 2021-06-04.
  2. 2.0 2.1 What Is a WAN? Wide-Area Network, Cisco Systems. Accessed 2021-12-01.
  3. 3.0 3.1 What is a WAN? Wide-area network definition and examples by Josh Fruhlinger and Keith Shaw, Network World. 2020-12-02.
  4. Two days after iPhone launch, AT&T EDGE goes down by Nancy Gohring, Macworld. 2007-07-02.
  5. Apple Introduces the New iPhone 3G, Apple Inc. 2008-06-09.
  6. Apple Introduces iPhone 5, Apple Inc. 2012-09-12.
  7. iPhone 12: Apple makes jump to 5G by Leo Kelion, BBC News. 2020-10-13.
  8. Home broadband providers face an uncertain future in the 5G era by Don Reisinger, Fortune. 2020-02-13.
  9. Share your internet connection from iPhone, Apple Support. Accessed 2021-12-01.

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