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Why Hasn’t Mesh Wireless Caught On?

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Why Hasn't Mesh Wireless Caught On?While the idea has yet to catch on with many organizations, wireless mesh networks are becoming increasingly popular, boasting a wide variety of benefits. The previously thought to be impossible dream of connecting entire businesses and communities through reliable and inexpensive outdoor wireless technology is quickly being adopted. But while it’s gaining popularity in some industries and companies, it still has a ways to go before it completely catches on.

For those of you aren’t familiar, wireless mesh networking, multiple access points are able to communicate over wireless interfaces to make one single network. The whole idea of a wireless network revolves around the ability to spread a network connection across a number of wireless nodes. These nodes have the ability to communicate with each other in order establish the fastest possible connection by rerouting signals to bypass any soft of architectural interference. The internet is often used as an example to explain mesh networks. By being the world’s largest mesh network, the internet works by sending information from router to router to deliver data in the most efficient and fast manner.

There are a number of benefits that mesh wireless has over the traditional network. With fewer wires, it costs less to set up the wireless mesh networks. With a mesh network, all of headaches involved with installing fiber and wires between building and business parks are essentially eliminated. Mesh networks are also highly adaptable and expandable, which allows you to add or subtract nodes as needed. These networks are especially helpful in areas where signals can be blocked on occasion. Rather than worry about wires, you can simply add another node for the signal to jump to. Mesh networks are also able to support very high demand over large geographic areas without sacrificing quality.

So these benefits seem pretty great, right? What’s keeping the idea from really catching on? Well, oftentimes, wireless mesh networking involves added bandwidth, since the nodes are constantly exchanging information with each other. In order to function effectively, a node needs to know which of the other nodes are online and which are offline. If mesh networks are going to be as popular as they are exciting, there a few technical issues that need to be addressed first. Many organizations are waiting to see developments that would allow mesh networks to adjust, heal, and optimize itself in real time. In terms of big name developments with mesh technology, Apple  unveiled an update with iOS7 that allows iPhones to create their own miniature mesh networks. Firechat’s Open Garden application essentially does the same thing albeit with desktop devices rather than with mobile devices.

Experts have a number of theories about what they believe is holding back mesh wireless. The most agreed upon ideas seem to revolve around worldwide internet access and government regulation. One theory is that if network congestion and failure become a serious issue, consumers may look to new methods of establishing wireless networks such as mesh as an alternative. This may not happen in the more developed countries, but if governments in developing countries continue to limit internet access, we could begin to see a shift. Aside from this, it seems that the most likely kick start that mesh could get is an application that provides its own miniature mesh network similar to Open Garden or Apple’s iOS update.

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