Wireless Mesh

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A wireless mesh network (WMN) is a communications network made up of radio nodes organized in a mesh topology; each node is connected to one or more other nodes, and information is passed from one node to the next, until it reaches its target destination. As in most cases, there is more than one path from one node to another, making such networks very reliable. When a node fails, the data will simply take another route. This type of infrastructure can be decentralized (with no central server) or centrally managed (with a central server).

The coverage area of the radio nodes working as a single network is sometimes called a mesh cloud. Mesh architecture sustains signal strength by breaking long distances into a series of shorter hops. Intermediate nodes not only boost the signal, but cooperatively make forwarding decisions based on their knowledge of the network, i.e. perform routing. Such an architecture may with careful design provide high bandwidth, spectral efficiency, and economic advantage over the coverage area.

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. 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.

The principle of a wireless mesh is similar to the way packets travel around the wired Internet— data will hop from one device to another until it reaches its destination. Dynamic routing algorithms implemented in each device allow this to happen. To implement such dynamic routing protocols, each device needs to communicate routing information to other devices in the network. Each device then determines what to do with the data it receives — either pass it on to the next device or keep it, depending on the protocol. The routing algorithm used should attempt to always ensure that the data takes the most appropriate (fastest) route to its destination.

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