Wireless Mesh

Commercial Wi-Fi – Getting it Right [Part II]

As mentioned in the previous article, designing and implementing commercial Wi-Fi is an intricate process which requires a lot careful consideration. We’ve already looked at 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, and it’s appropriateness in terms of performance and effectiveness. Today, we will look at another innovative technology called MESHING.

Maybe I should have held that one back till later, for the big reveal…drat!

You have a network site up and running and now want scale up, to reach out further in the hood conquest before your competition does. You’ve probably discovered cheaper equipment from another vendor that will work pretty much the same as in the other site. Soon, you realize that setting up another site is much of a hustle because you are starting from scratch all over again. The building owner won’t let you run cables and drill holes in the newly plastered walls…you’ll ruin the aesthetics. There is no service provider readily available at the new site, so you consider a point to point link from site 1. Now your equipment isn’t compatible for the point to point link, because, different vendors! Oh the frustration!

Many trials and errors and a whole new unforeseen budget later, you have it figured out and the site is ready. Soon enough, there’s another yuuuuuge challenge…frustrated customers! While moving from one site to another within your coverage area [aka roaming] they are required to reconnect every time. They have to endure the stress of trying to reconnect to the same network.

‘..but why?!’ they ask themselves. ‘Si my phone is supposed to automatically connect as long as the Wi-Fi name is the same?’, they ponder.

…and they are right [for once]!

Their Wi-Fi devices should be able to automatically connect to your network as they roam. But why can’t they? It is because your sites are autonomous [jargon for ‘independent from each other’]. Ideally, when moving from one area to another, your network sites should work as one such that, one site automatically hands you over to another without disconnection, just as cell phone service works. So, how do you ensure that you’re able to quickly scale up your network with minimal budget and configuration complexities, and guarantee your customers the convenience of seamless roaming?

Wireless Mesh Networks

Simply put, a wireless mesh network is a system of interconnected wireless access points that share connection information with each other. Not only that, they also share the same access information with wireless devices. In this interconnection, a network connection from a master access point is shared or spread out among a number of wireless mesh nodes [also called clients] that talk to each other to share the network connection across a large area.

Traditionally, when scaling up a wireless network for more coverage, access points in new sites needed to be wired to the internet to give service, making one site independent from another. Sharing connection information between sites was and still is a challenge. Also, cables needed to be buried in walls and ceilings making it difficult and expensive to set up a new site.

In a wireless mesh network, only one access point needs to be wired to the internet, then it shares the internet connection wirelessly with other client access points within its reach. The client access points the share that connection with other client access points within their reach…and on and on it goes! Easy, right? In the end, you have a highly functional scalable wireless network, having spent very little time and money setting up.

More to that, mesh networks are highly adaptable. If for some reason one access point fails, other access points connected to it will automatically find alternative peers and connect to them to send data. Mesh networks are also very easy to configure and deploy. All you have to do is specify the access point’s master and client roles, the network they belong to, point them to each other, then, just let them talk to each other to share the rest of the configuration information. Easy peasy!

Wait, there’s even more… In large deployments like smart cities, all the traffic going through the mesh eventually needs to go back to the master access point, into the wired network and out into the internet. This is called backhauling. In a wireless meshed networks where you have large capacities of data flowing through the mesh, you can have one of the client access points handle backhaul traffic back to the master. How? Remember 801.11ac from the previous article? This is where it comes into play, to enable high capacity wireless backhauling.

With the evolution of IoT [Internet of Things], where everything communicates with everything, there is a wide array of applications for wireless meshed networks e.g. smart cities, large office blocks, outdoor events[stadia, concerts], hotels, schools and their campuses,hospitals,police service,manufacturing plants…the whole lot! You can only be limited by your imagination!

Already having ideas to deploy high capacity and dependable wireless networks incorporating 802.11ac and meshing technology? Don’t be in a rush, there’s one last very important thing to consider.

Read Part III here

Do contact us for deeper insight into this technology. We are not box movers; We are solution providers.

https://optace.co.ke | [email protected] | [email protected]

+254 743 946 334 | +254 743 946 335

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