LAN Port vs WAN Port: What’s the Difference? How to Use?

LAN Port vs. WAN Port: When you first look at the latest network router these days where the switching function is built into the device. You will find several ports from three to five of them on the body of the router box.

Yet, plugging a cable from an ISP to any of the ports won’t allow you to access the Internet. If you look more closely, you can see that the ports are highlighted in different colors and labeled. Typically, routers have a few LAN ports (4 to 8) and a WAN port.

Most of the time, an inexperienced user will think that they are exactly the same, however, this isn’t so. So, let’s take a closer look: WAN Port vs. LAN Port. I will explain the difference between WAN and LAN ports and which one to connect the cable to, in the simplest possible terms.

LAN Port vs WAN Port

What is LAN Port is Used for?

The LAN ports of a router are for the purpose of connecting several computer devices in a single access point to share the data and files among the connected devices by means of hardwired Internet through ethernet cables and Wi-Fi through wireless antenna.

A home router generally has four LAN ports of a similar color near WPS button on the back of the router. This means it can host a network of up to four connected devices by connecting these identical jacks.

LAN port / Ethernet port

A LAN port is needed if you want to make a group network in order to connect all a number of computers to communicate at a short distance from each other with the Internet. If you want to create a network that will cover an area of ​​a couple of kilometers, for which you need to buy a high-bandwidth cable.

For example, Computers or mobile phones on the same LAN (aka Ethernet port) can usually see sharing files with each other and printers. If you want to create a huge local network, you will have to resort to a switch (or a network hub), which is specially designed to add more LAN ports to the switch.

Good to Know ~ To get to the Internet through a LAN port, the router must have a Wide Area Network (WAN) port.

What is WAN Port is Used for?

The WAN port is located on the back of the router used to connect with your modem to access the Internet from the ISP provider in order to take advantage of the internet on all the devices associated with it.

WAN Port

In any router, the WAN port is always separate from the LAN ports and often comes in a different color so that it can be recognized. LAN covers a small limited area while WAN connects multiple LANs which ultimately covers a huge area across a city, country, or even continent.

In general, a router has only one WAN port. Some with dual WAN ports for enterprises, so one can use them to connect two different modems, usually from different Internet providers simultaneously.

The router asserts the unique public IP address your Internet Service Provider assigns to you and it offers security features such as a firewall with port forwarding and quality of service, which prioritizes Internet traffic.

Difference Between WAN Port and LAN Port

LAN Port vs WAN Port

The main difference between the WAN and LAN ports is the purpose of the networks. WAN port is used to connect with a modem for Internet source while LAN port is utilized to share that Internet connection with all devices associated to routers such as a computer, laptop, printer, and mobile devices.

The user needs to know what is the difference between these ports while connecting a home router to the Internet. Remember that a LAN socket is needed to connect computers if there are several, and the WAN is needed to connect with the modem which allows you to receive a signal from the Internet provider.

Also, ethernet port light on PC indicate different data transfer rate. The speed of data transfer in a local network is often higher than the speed of downloading data from the Internet. This can be both because of a limitation in the data plan from the provider, or due to the limitations of the connector itself.

For example, LAN ports like 10 Gigabit, supports speeds up to 10000Mbps, while WAN ports can be up to 100 Mbps. Therefore, it is important to know the capabilities of each port when setting up a home network.

Comparison of LAN vs. WAN Port


LAN Port 

WAN Port

1. Meaning

LAN port creates the local network by connecting all the devices via ethernet cable or Wi-Fi.

WAN port creates a wide network by connecting all the routers via cable.

2. Full Form 

Local Area Network Port.

Wide Area Network Port.

3. Use

LAN port is used to provide Internet access or files sharing facility to all the connected devices.

WAN port is used to provide Internet access by connecting with a modem or wireless broadband to all the connected routers.

4. Speed

LAN ports have higher bandwidth up to 1000 Mbps.

WAN ports have Lower bandwidth than LAN ports up to 100 Mbps.

5. Number of Ports

There are many LAN ports that can be seen on the router, it can be 4, 6, 8, etc.

Most often, there is only one WAN port on the router.

6. Networking Devices

Wi-Fi, Ethernet Cables,Token Ring and Fiber Distributed Data Interface, FDDI, TCP/IP, etc.

Optical wires, modems, routers, switches, bridges, wireless broadband, and Satellite.

7. Data transfer Protocols

Ethernet cable and IEEE 802.11.

PPP, HDLC, and Frame Relay Protocol.

What is the Connection of Modem/Broadband to WAN Port?

A wireless broadband/modem often called a DSL modem is a device that links an Internet service connection through a WAN port on the router so that customers have access to the Internet and its benefits on their computer.

In general, a modem has a LAN port (for connecting to the WAN port of a router) and a service-related port, such as a coaxial port (cable modems) or a telephone port (DSL modems) which connects to the service line.

If you only have the modem, only an Ethernet-ready device, such as a computer, will be able to connect to the Internet. To connect more than one device to the Internet, you will need a router. Some providers offer a combo device, which is a combination of a modem and a router, or wireless router, all in one.


Can we use LAN port as a WAN port?

The LAN ports on the modem are intended for connecting to a local network, but they can always be made WAN, in the modem settings, if necessary. you might need some professional assistance depending on the device you have, and the service type that your provider executes.

Can we configure our router?

All the functionality of the router is provided by the firmware that controls the router. If the firmware that a router manufacturer does not allow you to configure advanced networking features, you can usually install third-party, open-source firmware that provides full access to the capabilities of the router.

What is the use of router firmware?

The router firmware will allow us to configure the Internet connection, either using the IPv4 or IPv6 protocol and once the network protocol has been chosen, we can choose whether to obtain IP through DHCP, PPPoE, or by other methods.

How many ports does a router have?

The number of ports on a particular router depends on the specific model. As a rule, the standard layout is 4 LAN and 1 WAN for the home-level and small office devices. There are more expensive devices with up to 8 ports onboard for LAN and up to 2 for WAN connections.

How to increase the number of LAN connections on the router?

If the number of devices you want to connect to increases and the LAN port is insufficient, you can increase the number of connected devices by purchasing a “network hub”. It connects multiple LAN cables and acts as a single network component.

What is the topology of LAN and WAN?

LAN only allows direct topology, while WAN is based on mixed hierarchical topology.

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