IEEE Evaluates Mesh Proposals

By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2005-07-25

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers last week evaluated several proposals for bringing a mesh networking standard called 802.11s to the wireless LAN industry.

Among the 15 proposals are single-company and consortia-submitted proposals from industry networking giants including Nortel Networks Ltd. and Nokia Corp., all of which already offer proprietary mesh networking products. In a mesh network, packets are routed dynamically from node to node, and only one access point needs to be connected directly to the wired network. The proposals all are variations on that theme.

The proposal from the Wi-Mesh Alliance, led by Nortel, supports both single- and multiple-radio mesh architectures. It is designed to be extensible and compatible with the upcoming 802.11n high-throughput Wi-Fi standard, said Nortel officials in Toronto. Nortel has already deployed mesh networks in Taipei City, Taiwan, and at several universities. Other members of the alliance include Accton Technology Corp., NextHop Technologies Inc. and The Thomson Corp.

Thomson has also submitted its own proposal, Hybrid Mesh, which supports on-demand routing (which discovers and maintains routes only when they are needed) and proactive routing (in which each node maintains routes to all reachable destinations at all times).

The Simple Efficient Extensible Mesh proposal targets unmanaged mesh networks. SEE-Mesh includes Tropos Networks Inc. and Firetide Inc., which specialize in mesh networks, as well as industry heavy hitters such as Intel Corp., NTT DoCoMo Inc., Motorola Inc., Texas Instruments Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

"One of the things the standards will bring to bear is a little more competition in product choices," said Craig Brown, associate director of computing services at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, which has deployed a mesh network of equipment from Nortel. "The more you have of the hardware infrastructure adhering to particular standards, the more software youll have to help you manage it."

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