Benefits that Mesh Well Together
The best way to position “wireless mesh” is to contrast it with other available wireless technologies, explains Ksenia Coffman, marketing manager for wireless mesh network provider Firetide, of Los Gatos, Calif. “If you look at the available wireless technologies, you can see wireless mesh is clearly differentiated,” she observes.
Point-to-point wireless systems. These systems provide connections between two fixed locations, and often offer greater capacities and distances compared with point-to-multipoint and mesh technologies. These connections, or bridges, are ideal for backhaul of other wireless technologies, Coffman explains.
Point-to-multipoint wireless systems. These systems deliver high-speed network connections to multiple remote locations. When towers or tall buildings are available, point-to-multipoint systems can offer cost-effective deployments. However, the central “base unit” creates a potential single point of failure.
“Should the unit lose power or become inoperative, the whole network goes down,” Coffman says.
Multipoint-to-multipoint (or wireless mesh) systems. These systems are by their very nature self-healing for resiliency, Coffman notes. Redundant links eliminate single points of failure associated with conventional wireless networks, while multiple paths overcome line-of-sight issues. On a wireless mesh network, unlike with a point-to-multipoint system, any mesh node can act as a “head end,” allowing multiple command centers to be set up, at any point in the network, she describes.
The flexibility of mesh allows it to be deployed in any of the above scenarios — point-to-point for backhaul, point-to-multipoint, or “true” mesh for complete redundancy.
Some deployments start as point-to-multipoint, later to be reconfigured into a mesh topology, when security needs call for ubiquitous coverage, Coffman says.