Value-Added Network

What Does Value-Added Network Mean?

A Value-Added Network (VAN) is a hosted service used for sharing received, stored and forwarded messages. A VAN may also add audit data and modify data for automatic error detection, correction or conversion between communication protocols.


Techopedia Explains Value-Added Network

In the 1970s, private organizations managing large network services competed with state government-controlled telecommunications services. To differentiate from state services, private organizations recognized a driving need to add communication value. This proved complicated and led to the concept of user-defined networks, which preceded Internet service providers (ISPs).

As the Internet developed, many companies found it more cost-effective to transport data via the Internet, rather than incurring minimum monthly fees or per-character charges typical to VAN contracts. VAN providers countered by offering additional services, including secure email, encryption, management reporting and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) translation between organizations.

VANs are now used in the absence of state-controlled telecommunications. However, the VAN term primarily describes business-to-business (B2B) communications, especially EDI For Administration Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT), which is an international U.N. standard that competes with Extensible Markup Language (XML). VANs continue evolving into more specific industry processes with particular emphasis on retail and high-tech manufacturing.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.