Wireless Mesh Networks for Internet Everywhere Your Customers Need It

• • Broadband, data transmission, Smart Home

Are your customers making the most of their Wi-Fi? Many of them have invested in fiber-to-the-premises internet housed in quality enclosures, but if they have a large home, their router may not provide complete coverage. Your customers use Wi-Fi for home entertainment, smart home features, and wearables. They count on connectivity in every corner of their home and yard. Wireless mesh networks can provide wireless coverage wherever your customers need it.

Wireless mesh networks operate on the same principles that make the internet work so well. Just as the internet is made of connected computers and data centers with information moving along a variety of pathways, wireless mesh networks are made up of nodes that communicate with one another with data moving freely along different network paths.

The nodes of wireless mesh networks transmit and receive radio signals, the same kind of signals that a router sends out. Wireless mesh networks require only a single wired access point connected to the physical internet. The access point node shares its connection with all other nodes within range. Those nodes share the connection with all nodes within their range, and so on. The size of the wireless mesh network depends on how many nodes are in place.

This is different from a building with numerous wired hotspots. In those networks, each hotspot is only sending and receiving data with users. With a wireless mesh network, data and connectivity are shared between nodes. A wireless mesh network will automatically find the fastest path to send data. Using a process called dynamic routing, a wireless mesh network reconfigures automatically when nodes are added, and adjusts the network when nodes become blocked or inoperable.

Wireless Mesh Networks in the World

Wireless mesh networks can be used to convey important information such as storm warnings. And they can be quickly deployed for use after an emergency that has damaged physical infrastructure. For example, they were set up after the Boston Marathon bombing.

IBM has worked with the Weather Network to create a wireless mesh network that uses Android phones as nodes to disperse information about weather emergencies. The network uses already available software like Bluetooth or FM radios to send and receive signals.

Wireless Mesh Networks at Home

Wireless mesh networks are a good idea anywhere a single wireless router signal might be interrupted. Multi-story homes often benefit from wireless mesh networks, which is why they are being marketed to homeowners as Wi-Fi systems or wireless mesh network kits.

Advise your customers to do their research before purchasing a kit or Wi-Fi system, as each kit has different benefits and drawbacks. Though most wireless mesh network kits are made up of two or three nodes that are easy to use and set up, and many of them can be controlled with a smartphone.

It’s important to note that a wireless mesh network will not make your customers’ internet faster, it will only improve the coverage area. Kits advertise speeds of up to 3Gpbs, but they will only transfer data at the rate of your customers’ internet plan.