Design and Operation of Wireless Mesh Networks
In a wireless mesh network, only one of the network nodes needs to be directly connected or wired to an Internet modem. This node will then share the connection with the closest nodes wirelessly. These nodes will then take their turn and spread the connection to the ones near them, etc. The only wiring each node will require is the power supply. In this way the connection can be geographically expanded without any physical limits, as long as there available nodes in the area. These nodes use the necessary software that enables them to interact with the others and at the same time use a process called dynamic routing to locate the fastest path available for the Internet connection to be established. The more nodes installed, the faster the connection.
There are two types of network nodes used in a WMN: mesh routers and mesh clients.
Conventional and mesh routers are basically the same as far as their hardware is concerned. However, mesh routers differ from the conventional wireless routers in that they require much less transmission power to cover the same area and the medium access control (MAC) protocol used is enhanced with better scalability in a multi-hop mesh environment.
Mesh clients, on the other hand, have the ability to operate as mesh routers as well. However, gateway or bridge functions do not exist in these nodes. The hardware platform and the software of the clients are much simpler than the routers (only one wireless interface needed). What's more, mesh clients can exist in a higher variety of devices such as laptops/desktops PCs, Pocket PCs, PDAs, RFID readers, IP phones, etc.
The WMN architecture described may provide a high-broadband network suitable for a neighborhood, campus, or city installation. It will provide coverage to areas between the houses, and users may choose multiple connection paths instead of a single path- as is the situation today- and gateways will be able to be set up for multiple homes, thus reducing costs.