Wireless Mesh Networks - Mesh networking is a type of networking wherein each node in the network acts as an independent router. Each mesh network must have at least one node that connected to another network which serves as a point of ingress and egress for all traffic on the mesh network. Every mesh node continuously checks the status of all surrounding nodes to determine the least congested path with the least number of hops to the egress node. This characteristic makes a properly designed mesh network "self healing" and gives it the ability to overcome broken or blocked paths by “hopping” from node to node until the destination (or egress node) is reached.
There are two types of mesh networks - full and partial. A fully meshed network is one where each and every node can establish a path to every other other node in the network. A partially meshed network is one where not all other nodes are accessible. Customer/application requirements will determine the appropriate topology.
Given the self-healing characteristic of a mesh network, it is widely deployed where node accessibility is of greater importance than bandwidth. Mesh technology is also widely used to extend wired networks to areas where power is available but data cabling cannot be installed.
Most mesh equipment manufacturers include 2 or more 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz unlicensed-band (or 4.9 GHz licensed-band) radios in the same enclosure along with a wired Ethernet/PoE connection. This allows wireless systems integrators the ability to provide Hotspot (Wi-Fi) service using one radio and dedicating the other for backhaul using a mesh protocol. PPT has successfully implemented mesh networks that provide Wi-Fi access around node points and concurrently back-haul surveillance video to a central monitoring and recording point.
As of early 2010 a wireless mesh protocol standard does not exist. The IEEE has a Task Group working on a standard and expects to have Draft 5.0 completed by the end of 1Q2010. Until there is a standard, proprietary propocols prevail.
Prime Performance Technologies, Inc. (PPT) designs and installs and maintains wireless mesh networks. PPT has partnered with a large number of world-class manufacturers of wireless mesh equipment including BelAir, Firetide and Proxim and is able to design and support mesh networks that meet a diverse set of requirements.