Mesh networking, a network topology in which each node cooperates to relay and
distribute data for the network, has been in use for a variety of networking
needs. Broadly, they are:
- Mesh networks for municipalities/smart city initiatives (Part 1)
- Mesh networks for military use (Part 2)
- Mesh networks for enterprise telecommunications (Part 3)
We’ll be exploring a few examples in which mesh networks have been utilized to fit the specific needs of different network systems, with a special focus on how mesh networks successfully brought value to existing Wi-Fi infrastructures.
Part 3: Enterprise Wi-Fi Mesh Networks
The concept of mesh networking in the enterprise has been around for decades because of the clear benefits a wireless mesh network can give. The cost for large enterprises in installing wireless service skyrocket with scale- installing more Access Points for more coverage entails not just the cost of the Access Points but the physical cabling to connect them and the hardware and maintenance to sustain them. Existing enterprise mesh networks have certain key benefits compared to traditional networks.
- They are less expensive. Simply put, using fewer wires means it costs less to setup the wireless mesh network for large areas of coverage. Using existing wireless mesh networks mitigate the cost and complexity of installing fiber/wires between buildings and grounds.
- Mesh networks are extremely adaptable and expandable. As mentioned in Part 2, mesh networks are very useful for areas where there is a lack of sight or where network configurations are intermittently blocked. Adding more wireless mesh nodes to find a clear signal is less complex than installing traditional access points.
- Mesh networks are more capable of supporting higher demand. With better expandability, it is more simple to plan to meet higher traffic.
Recognizing these benefits, there has been a surge of initiatives to offer wireless mesh networks with hardware that has wireless mesh capabilities.
Many major vendors offer mesh solutions, but the market leader is Cisco-Meraki.
Founded in 2006, Meraki’s cloud managed mesh network system has grown to become an industry leader in the IT space, with over 140,000 customers and 2 million network devices and counting online around the world. Its comprehensive set of solutions includes wireless, switching, security, communications, EMM, and security cameras, all managed through Meraki’s web-based dashboard interface. This allows customers to reduce operational costs related to the installation and upkeep of certain hardware and wiring components.
With mesh routing, organizations can extend the wireless network to areas that are difficult or expensive to connect via Ethernet cabling. Meshed APs self-configure and establish a high-performance, robust, and resilient network automatically, without any need for manual intervention or provisioning. Cisco Meraki's advanced proprietary routing protocols and algorithms continuously evaluate link performance by measuring a variety of factors, including signal strength, throughput, link cost, interference, and frame reception rates, making its mesh network self-healing
Although mesh router systems from major enterprise vendors help solve the problems of wiring costs and expand-ability, they are still restricted by the cost of hardware. The cost of the router along with licensing fees and accessories means that a single mesh router easily costs upwards of $1000. For a large enterprise venue with hundreds if not over 1000 access points, the accumulated cost of the system can be exorbitant.
From our Enterprise partners, we’ve learned that the reason behind incomplete Wi-Fi coverage is usually that Wi-Fi is simply too expensive.
The cost of any Wi-Fi system, at its basis, will always be tied to the number of access points. Until now, more access points = more expansive, better coverage.
With Anyfi’s mobile mesh network software , Enterprise Wi-Fi systems are largely freed from the constraints of hardware costs.
Instead of requiring additional hardware and installation for increased coverage, the Anyfi Mesh Connectivity SDK leverages the latent bandwidth in each user device to spread internet connectivity. This requires far less cost and complication while achieving even greater coverage and connection.
Anyfi networks will automatically, without additional cost to the client, scale to meet the exponentially growing number of smartphones and amount of data trafficked.