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Mesh Networking

By Robyn |

Background

Mesh networking is a technology originally developed by the military for use in battlefield communications. In a mesh network, nodes (or devices) are setup in a way that allows for many communication paths to reach one desired access point. You can see how this is helpful in military communications, as mesh technology improves surveillance, tactical planning, targeting accuracy, and troop safety in the battlefield by establishing a communication network without the need to set up large towers or antennas for signal. Mesh networking has quickly been adapted and is now commonly used in various industries, including Logistics.

How It Works

Mesh networking is a means by which data is transmitted along a path (think of a bucket brigade) made up of dozens or even hundreds of nodes that “talk” to each other, versus using a traditional wired network that relies on a small number of wired access points or wireless hotspots to connect users. The nodes in a mesh network work together to transmit data over larger or harder to reach geographic areas.  Each node passes data long to the next node and the next node until it reaches the intended destination, either the end user or a transmission hub.  The data is encrypted as it travels, allowing only the intended user to receive the information.

Advantages

1)  Self-Governing and Adaptable

An advantage of a mesh network is that it is self-governing.  This allows the network to self-create and also self-heal.  If one node should go offline or become unavailable because of hardware failure or lack of power, it will reroute to the next available node and the data transmission can successfully continue.  The data is programmed to seek the fastest path to its destination, allowing the network to go around any points that have become unavailable or use any new nodes added to the mesh network. 

Additionally, nodes can be removed or added as more or less coverage is needed. An amusement park, for example, might need additional nodes and coverage added because the large structures and rides may occasionally block the signal from reaching the end access point. In areas such as these, adding more nodes will adjust the communication to find a clear signal.

2)  Lower Costs

Using fewer modems and wires mean lower costs for set-up and data charges. Wireless mesh networks share a network connection across a large area while using less equipment and providing easy installation.

3)  Coverage of Large Geographic Areas

Because mesh networks are reliable, high speed, and provide instant connectivity, they are suited and designed to support coverage over large indoor or outdoor areas. A variety of public safety applications such as parking garages, campus grounds, schools, business parks, and other large outdoor facilities rely on wireless mesh networks to provide connection.