Mesh Networks

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Mesh Networks

Mesh networks make a great deal of sense to me. The ability to drop wireless nodes into any environment and set up a fully functioning network is something that seems so logical that  I can't imagine doing it any other way. Here is a release from a company that claims to have made a mesh networking breakthrough via the use of three radios.

Release:

MeshDynamics Offers Industry’s First Three-Radio Mesh Network Solution

Structured Mesh Solutions Enable Dense City-Wide WiFi and VoIP Networks

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – January 31, 2005 – MeshDynamics, the technology leader for wireless mesh network architectures, today announced the availability of an innovative mesh networking solution that yields greater than a 50x bandwidth improvement over traditional mesh networks.  The MD-300 family of 3-Radio Structured Mesh software and systems features a unique multi-radio, multi-channel backhaul (relay) path with automatic channel selection, providing a significant performance improvement for VoIP and mobile data applications, including Public Safety networks.

 ”We believe that multi-radio mesh nodes are going to become the norm over time,” said Craig J. Mathias, a Principal with the wireless and mobile advisory firm Farpoint Group (Ashland, MA). “Multiple radios are the best way to deal with latency, congestion, and the provisioning of additional capacity as metro-scale meshes grow. The latency and congestion issues become particularly important as voice traffic assumes a larger role in mesh-based networks.”

With one radio to relay packets through the mesh, a conventional mesh node can’t send and receive data at the same time.  In addition, all mesh radios share the same spectrum in conventional mesh, causing even more degradation when traffic is high.  MeshDynamics’ 3-radio Structured Mesh employs a (patent pending) set of algorithms that uses 2-radios per backhaul path per node (both 802.11a) as well as separate service radios (typically 802.11b/g) – all on different spectrum – eliminating both problems.  Unlike conventional mesh, Structured Mesh nodes automatically form a tree, analogous to the structure of a conventional wired switch stack and with similar routing table structures.  This technology development was enabled by discarding the original military peer-to-peer mesh paradigm where all mesh radios are on the same channel.  One key was viewing the problem as a distributed control system for managing spectrum, as opposed to simply solving a routing problem.  The other key was realizing that in a modern city-wide mesh, most paths lead to the Internet.

"With significant growth in city-wide WiFi HotZones, high bandwidth mesh networks become critical," said Amy Cravens, Senior Analyst, customer & service provider markets, at Scottsdale, Arizona-based market analyst firm In-Stat.  "A fundamentally new approach is required in mesh in order to achieve the performance that city-wide deployments require.  Employing a three-radio approach, such as MeshDynamics has developed, will enable delivery of VoIP and mobile data on a city-wide scale."

MeshDynamics CEO Bob Osann sees VoIP as the ‘killer application’ for mesh networking. “When compared with cellular, Structured Mesh solutions offer more than a 100x advantage in cost-per-minute-per-user when supporting dense VoIP.  Compared with conventional mesh solutions, our cost-per-Kb-per-user exceeds 10x for an entire deployment, given realistic traffic levels.”

MeshDynamics’ 3-radio Structured Mesh products are successfully operating at beta site RCGI in Pennsylvania and at a startup OEM in Texas still in stealth mode.  Wireless ISP Softcom will soon deploy Structured Mesh systems for the city of Galt near Sacramento, California.  Kevin Triplett, CEO of Softcom said “We see Structured Mesh as the key to offering higher performance than DSL and Cable while providing ubiquitous WiFi for VoIP.”  MeshDynamics 3-radio systems are also operating successfully at a USAF base where they are being evaluated for next generation battlefield communications, according to Osann.  Additional customers for the MD-300 will be announced in the second quarter of 2005.

About Mesh Networking and VoIP
A wireless mesh network is an array of nodes that relay packets from one to another, essentially increasing the range of the network.  Each transfer is called a “hop”.  Unfortunately in conventional mesh networks, performance decreases with each hop.  Conventional meshes use only one radio channel (frequency) for multi-hop communications.  Radio, by its nature, is a shared medium, which means that the resulting contention is compounded hop-to-hop, resulting in architectures that work well with light traffic loading but will “choke” themselves when simultaneous traffic becomes heavy.  VoIP creates this type of heavy traffic due to its continuous nature.  The backhaul (relay) path through the mesh must carry enormous numbers of packets to support dense city-wide VoIP.  Only a multi-radio, multi-channel architecture like Structured Mesh will be able to handle the loading when the number of simultaneous VoIP and data users gets large.
 
Pricing and Availability

Complete MD-300 systems are available within four weeks after receipt of order and are priced at $3900 in quantity 1-24.  An MD-350 3-radio mesh module (complete with software but without antennas) is priced at $2900 in similar quantities.  Structured Mesh software is also available for license to OEMs and resellers, as well as wireless Internet Service Providers who wish to construct their own APs based on MeshDynamics’ reference designs.  Software Licenses start with a $45,000 for a 100 license engagement package that includes training, with individual licenses costing $450 in quantity 101-499, and $300 at the 1,000 quantity level.

About MeshDynamics

Founded in 2002, MeshDynamics is a privately held company offering software and systems for high performance wireless mesh networking applications.  The Company’s MeshControl software enables a unique multi-radio, multi-channel backhaul path with vastly superior bandwidth and latency over multiple hops, providing the best price/performance solution for dense City-wide VoIP and mobile data.  MeshDynamics has offices in both Santa Clara, CA and Pune, India.   For more information, please visit www.MeshDynamics.com, call 408-373-7700, or write to info@meshdynamics.com.
 


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