Wireless Mesh Networking Travels New Routes To Market

Wi-Fi wireless networking

Unlike traditional Wi-Fi networks, in which each hot spot requires its own backhaul, wireless mesh architecture has a single point of backhaul, which makes it a quick and cost-effective way to extend a wired network, said Quentin Coffman, president of Telepath Wireless Solutions, a wireless integrator in Charlotte, N.C. The technology also is designed to self-correct network problems and optimize performance, he added.

The market for mesh network access points is expected to grow to nearly $1 billion in 2009 from $33.5 million in 2004, according to In-Stat/MDR. This is good news for solution providers' services businesses, said Terry Brown, marketing manager at Viasys, a wireless VAR in Lakeland, Fla.

Although mesh networks have a reputation for being easy to set up and manage, there is a significant amount of engineering and project management involved, including conducting site surveys for interference and rogue access points, solving backhaul issues and obtaining power and permits. "There is a lot of project management involved with constructing mesh networks," Brown said.

Joe Bardwell, president and chief scientist of Connect802, San Ramon, Calif., has seen mesh router sales inquiries triple since January, driven mainly by markets that have no alternative backbone infrastructure. However, he believes that 3G cellular and WiMax eventually will be used for aspects of backhaul and wide-area mobile connectivity currently handled by mesh networking. "I see a two-, possibly three-year window of opportunity in the mesh router space, and then a forced marriage of technologies that will flatten the market in favor of alternative high-speed options."

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