Wireless Mesh Network

A wireless mesh network (WMN) is a communications network made up of radio nodes organized in a mesh topology. 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, connect 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. The animation below illustrates how wireless mesh networks can self form and self heal. Wireless mesh networks can be implemented with various wireless technology including 802.11, 802.15, 802.16, cellular technologies or combinations of more than one type.

A wireless mesh network can be seen as a special type of wireless ad-hoc network. A wireless mesh network often has a more planned configuration, and may be deployed to provide dynamic and cost effective connectivity over a certain geographic area. An ad-hoc network, on the other hand, is formed ad hoc when wireless devices come within communication range of each other. The mesh routers may be mobile, and be moved according to specific demands arising in the network. Often the mesh routers are not limited in terms of resources compared to other nodes in the network and thus can be exploited to perform more resource intensive functions. In this way, the wireless mesh network differs from an ad-hoc network, since these nodes are often constrained by resources.

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