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Global area network

(also GAN)

Global area network definition

A global area network (GAN) is an extensive network of interconnected networks covering an unlimited geographical area (e.g., the Internet). Unlike LANs or local area networks that cover smaller areas, GANs span over global ranges. Several types of GANs exist, from mobile broadband to satellite networks.

See also: global server load balancing, wireless local area network

How a global area network works

  • GANs rely on ground-based infrastructure (like servers) and satellite systems.
  • When you, for example, make a call or send a message, your device sends that data to the nearest connection point. Depending on the GAN type, it could be a local tower, a satellite, or even a high-altitude balloon.
  • That connection point relays your data across long distances. It might send it to a satellite, undersea cable, or other high-speed networks.
  • The network ensures your data gets to its intended destination, whether it's another phone, a computer, or a web server on the other side of the world.
  • Like your data was sent out, the response – a message reply, a website, or a call voice – is transmitted back through the GAN, following the same relay process.
  • Your device receives this returned data from its nearest connection point, allowing you to see the website, hear the voice, or read the message.


  • A local area network (LAN) connects devices in a limited area using mediums like Ethernet or Wi-Fi. It’s ideal for sharing local resources (like printers).
  • A global area network (GAN) spans large geographical areas, often globally. It uses technologies like satellites and undersea cables to enable international communication.