Mesh Networking for Fixed Wireless Installations – Don’t believe the Hype!
Wireless “Mesh” networks are all the rage these days, gaining a reputation among customers of various industries where fixed wireless Ethernet installations are required. The allure is great, we get it. The idea that a professional design and installation company can buy multiple radios with mesh networking firmware and scatter them wherever they need an Ethernet device and then connect them back through the mesh to the head end network location. It sounds as simple as hitting the easy button but it has proven to be both tall on excitement and small on performance. Whether it’s a PLC or IP camera, the “magical mesh theory” that promises to make challenging installations simple and reliable has bitten many a professional installer in the backside.
Mesh is a great theoretical technology yet more often than not it comes up short in the real world. Simply put Point-to-Point (PTP) and Point-to-Multipoint (PTMP) wireless Ethernet installations are still more predictable, more reliable, and more cost effective. The benefits of the PTP and PTMP far outweigh the risks of Mesh. It will benefit you to take the time in the design phase and architect a “predictable path wireless system” of overlapping PTMP (Star) topologies.
We all have lived long enough to know there is no true “easy button” in life. The great allure that wireless Mesh networking will magically solve all fixed wireless installations challenges has proven to once again remind us why professional design and installation will be required for years to come. Perhaps Apple will solve it all for us one day. Until then stay PTP or PTMP friends.