Mesh Networking



A wireless mesh network (WMN) is a concept that promises to democratise the process of global degitalisation. he concept is seen as a community's answer to the growing stranglehold of corporates over communication technologies. Nomad has been experimenting with the concept for the past several years and convinced that it could be the best solution for last mile connectivity for the communities. Nomad can work with your community to set up a mesh network as per the need of the community members.

Wireless mesh is a communications network made up of radio nodes,  organized in a mesh topology rather than a starred topography which is currently being used by the Wireless Internet Service Providers .  Wireless mesh networks often consist of mesh clients, mesh routers and gateways. The mesh clients are often laptops, cell phones and other wireless devices while the mesh routers forward traffic to and from the gateways which may, but need not, be connected to the Internet. The coverage area of the radio nodes working as a single network is sometimes called a mesh cloud. Access to this mesh cloud is dependent on the radio nodes working in harmony with each other to create a radio network. A mesh network is reliable and offers redundancy. When one node can no longer operate, the rest of the nodes can still communicate with each other, directly or through one or more intermediate nodes. Wireless mesh networks can self form and self heal. Wireless mesh networks can be implemented with various wireless technologies including 802.11, 802.15, 802.16, cellular technologies and need not be restricted to any one technology or protocol.

Wireless mesh architecture is a first step towards providing cost effective and dynamic high-bandwidth networks over a specific coverage area.  In a traditional network a router communicates exclusively to a centralised Access Point on the one hand and the clients on the other. In a mesh network a router acts as a station and access point simultaneously. Mesh infrastructure carries data over large distances by splitting the distance into a series of short hops. Intermediate nodes not only boost the signal, but cooperatively pass data from point A to point B by making forwarding decisions based on their knowledge of the network. Such an architecture may, with careful design, provide high bandwidth, spectral efficiency, and economic advantage over the coverage area.

This type of infrastructure can be decentralized with no central server. . Nodes act as routers to transmit data from nearby nodes to peers that are too far away to reach in a single hop, resulting in a network that can span larger distances. The topology of a mesh network is also reliable, as each node is connected to several other nodes. If one node drops out of the network, due to hardware failure or any other reason, its neighbors can quickly find another route using a routing protocol.

Mesh networks may involve either fixed or mobile devices. The solutions are as diverse as communication needs, for example in difficult environments such as emergency situations, tunnels, oil rigs, battlefield surveillance, high-speed mobile-video applications on board public transport or real-time racing-car telemetry. An important possible application for wireless mesh networks is VoIP. By using a Quality of Service scheme, the wireless mesh may support local telephone calls to be routed through the mesh.

Some current applications:

  • U.S. military forces are now using wireless mesh networking to connect their computers, mainly ruggedized laptops, in field operations.
  • Electric meters now being deployed on residences transfer their readings from one to another and eventually to the central office for billing without the need for human meter readers or the need to connect the meters with cables.[3]
  • The laptops in the One Laptop per Child program use wireless mesh networking to enable students to exchange files and get on the Internet even though they lack wired or cell phone or other physical connections in their area. Tamarind Tree school Dahanu Maharashtra uses as an extension of its school server to the student communities home.
  • The 66-satellite Iridium constellation operates as a mesh network, with wireless links between adjacent satellites. Calls between two satellite phones are routed through the mesh, from one satellite to another across the constellation, without having to go through an earth station. This makes for a smaller travel distance for the signal, reducing latency, and also allows for the constellation to operate with far fewer earth stations than would be required for 66 traditional communications satellites.