Thursday, February 12, 2004

Ad-hoc peer-to-peer routing technology

At least that's what MeshNetworks calls it. The title of this post is the technical definition of what is known as a "mesh network." Mesh networks are currently used by public service agencies and the military.

Essentially mesh networks allow each wireless user to also act as a wireless repeater. What exactly does that mean? Here's a simple example: You are using a wireless device in your car to connect to the Internet wirelessly via a fixed wireless hotspot. Another person that's close to you in their car, but is not close enough to the wireless hotspot can use you as a bridge to connect to the hotspot.

In the case of MeshNetworks (the company), their technology allows not only connections such as the example listed above, but also connections directly between clients (i.e., the 2 cars in the example above could connect to each other even if there was no hotspot available.

Still a little hazy on how this works? Ok, MeshNetworks has provided a picture here.

The benefits for public safety and military are quite obvious: for public safety agencies it ensures continuity of connection between units, and for the military it allows them to instantaneously set up a data-sharing network in a battlefield that maintains continuity of connection.

For the public sector (i.e., end consumer), assuming that the security could be sufficiently programmed, imagine that everyone using wireless smart phones, wireless PDA's, and wireless laptops could all act as repeaters as well as receivers.

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