It’s well known that scaling your organization up is beneficial, and the mesh is no exception. Part of the reason is the way a mesh system works. A typical “hub and spoke” pattern supplies internet from a central source. Neighbors rely solely on their provider to get their signal. If that connection is broken, say by a cable to the home being damaged, the home loses service. A mesh works differently. Subscribers ideally should be connected to multiple other subscribers, some of whom are connected to other access points. If one source of the signal is lost or degrades, the mesh automatically switches to the next best source. Mesh was devised to serve the U.S. military under battlefield conditions, with mobile nodes needing to stay in contact with one another. It’s kind of fun to watch the mesh algorithm continually recalculating link quality to all it’s neighbors so that it can route on the best signal! This means that a mesh system carries a little more overhead (It has to have a complete picture of the links to all its neighbors all the time so it can respond quickly) but it means that service will be reliable even in rapidly fluctuating conditions, such as increasing and decreasing traffic, a non-functioning router or interference.
To work well the system needs lots of subscribers connected to each other. Mesh routers don’t have a long range, because they expect to get their signal from a relatively close neighbor. So as we scale up to more subscribers the system will work even better for everyone!
Newport Wireless Mesh isn’t a business, we’re a non-profit, but we face many of the same challenges as a small business entering the market. Scaling up will help us over some of these challenges.