Friday, February 10, 2006

Wireless Mesh Networking -- Changing the Internet

Mesh networks could change the internet as we know it today. Sepp Hasselberger writes about this topic in his blog in which he makes several interesting points. Mesh networking enables municipal broadband which is in deployment in over 400 cities worldwide, and it’s expected to double this year. For those who are unfamiliar with mesh networking check out the definition in Wikipedia.

Mesh networking is considered a key technology for the developing world. In this downloadable book called “Wireless Networking in the Developing World” shows you how to build your own wireless mesh networking system using low-cost, commercially available equipment. The book starts with a primer on wireless technology including protocols with a focus primarily on WiFi. It then goes into various issues such as how to power a mesh network even when there’s no power grid available. (Hint: See last week’s post on this blog.) It provides practical advice for installing the nodes so they can survive harsh weather conditions. This is one of the more practical books I’ve seen on the topic of mesh networking and to top it off, it comes as a free download with a “Creative Commons” license.

Will Kelly writes a piece for Processor magazine on the benefits of mesh networking. I noticed a nice factoid at the bottom of the page from the CEO of Firetide another vendor of mesh networking equipment. Mesh networking can solve physical security issues by placing IP-based cameras around a facility and linking them through mesh networking technology. By removing the wiring burden and providing the ability to move the cameras around at will, a company can save a substantial amount of money in deploying camera security.

Companies offering wireless mesh networking systems are gaining recognition. Strix Systems, Locustworld, and Packethop Communications are some of the up and coming players in this area.

Microsoft is jumping on the bandwagon by offering a Mesh Networking Academic Resource Toolkit 2005 with a free download here. The driver software plugs into Microsoft Windows and provides a layer that makes the ad hoc network appear as a virtual network link.

A rich resource of information related to Wireless Mesh Networks is the Community Wireless, which is an umbrella organization for mesh networking. Another group offering a community-style access to WiFi is FON which has an impressive list of supporters from around the world.

Virtual instrumentation can make use of wireless mesh networking if no other reason than to eliminate the wiring cost typically associated with major applications. Wiring costs can run anywhere from $40/foot to $2000/foot. In addition one can add or remove nodes without impacting the system.

Best regards,
Hall T.

5 Comments:

Blogger eshock said...

Nicholas Negroponte gave a keynote address at CEDIA 2004 regarding the inevitibility of mesh network topology by pointing out that cell phone networks were down on 9.11 because of the centralized bottlenecks. With mesh topology, as each node is added to the network, its robustness increases rather than decreases. I think this is the critical benefit. Custom-installed consumer electronics and lighting control are all employing mesh in their new products.

Saturday, February 25, 2006 2:49:00 AM  
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