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Wireless Mesh Networks


Introduction Application Scenarios Network Architecture

Protocols Design Standardization Activities
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Wireless Mesh Networks

A wireless mesh network represents

a series of peer-to-peer transmissions where each node functions as a router and repeater.

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Each node has a connection to every other node in the network

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Modern Mesh Networks

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Application Scenarios
Broadband Home Networking Community and Neighborhood Networking Enterprising Networking Metropolitan Area Networking Transportation Systems Building Automation Health and Medical Systems Security and Surveillance Systems

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Broadband Home Networking

Current home network realized through IEEE 802.11 WLANs
Problem location of the access points. Homes have many dead zones without service coverage. Site survey are expensive and not practical Installation of multiple access points is also expensive and not convenient. Communications between nodes under two different access points have to go through the access hub, not an efficient solution. Removal of Dead zones by adding mesh routers, changing locations of mesh routers

WMNs can resolve all these issues in home networking!!!

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Community and Neighborhood Networking

Community networks based on cable, DSL and last-hop wireless

All traffic must flow through Internet, this significantly reduces network resource utilization. Large percentage of areas in between houses is not covered by wireless services. Gateways may not be shared and wireless services must be set up individually, network service costs may increase. Each home has single path to access Internet

WMNs can mitigate these disadvantages and provide many applications such as distributed file storage, distributed file access, and video streaming.

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Enterprise Networking
IEEE 802.11 WLANs
Isolated islands, connections among them are achieved through wired Ethernet Adding more backhaul access modems only increases capacity locally, but does not improve robustness to link failures, network congestion and other problems of the entire enterprise network.

WMNs Solutions
Multiple backhaul access modems can be shared by all nodes in the entire network Scalable

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Metropolitan Area Networks

WMNs provide higher transmission rate than cellular networks, The communication between nodes does not rely on a wired backbone. An economic alternative to broadband networking Covers larger area than home, enterprise, building, or community networks. Higher scalabilityis being required by MAN as it is larger compared to other networks

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Transportation Systems
WMNs can extend access from stations and stops into buses, ferries, and trains. Convenient passenger information services, remote monitoring of invehicle security video, and driver communications. Two key techniques are needed
High-speed mobile backhaul from a vehicle to the Internet Mobile mesh networks within the vehicle.

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Building Automation
Various electrical devices need to be controlled and monitored. Standard wired networks is very expensive Wi-Fi networks can reduce the cost of such networks. However, the deployment of Wi-Fis for this application is still expensive. Low deployment cost of BACnet (Building Automation and Control Networks) with WMNs

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Health and Medical Systems

Monitoring and diagnosis data need to be processed and transmitted across rooms for various purposes. Large data volume by high resolution medical images, various periodical monitoring information Wi-Fi based networks must rely on the existence of Ethernet connections, cause high system cost, complexity and dead spots. However, these issues do not exist in WMNs.

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Security and Surveillance Systems

Security surveillance systems is necessity for enterprise buildings, shopping malls, grocery stores, etc.
Still images and videos are the major traffic flowing in the network, this application demands much higher network capacity than other applications. WMNs are a much more viable solution than wired networks to connect all devices.

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Network Architecture
WMNs consist of two types of nodes: Mesh Routers and Mesh Clients

Mesh router

Additional routing functions to support mesh networking. Multiple wireless interfaces with same or different wireless access technologies.

The gateway/bridge functionalities enable the integration of WMNs with existing wireless networks(cellular, sensornet, Wi-Fi, WiMAX).
Mesh Clients Conventional nodes (e.g., desktops, laptops, PDAs, PocketPCs, phones, etc.) equipped with wireless network interface cards (NICs), and can connect directly to wireless mesh routers. Customers without wireless NICs can access WMNs by connecting to wireless mesh routers through, e.g., Ethernet.

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WMN Routers

Examples of mesh routers based on different embedded systems: (a) PowerPC and (b) Advanced Risc Machines (ARM)
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WMN Clients

Examples of mesh clients: (a) Laptop, (b) PDA,

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Wi-Fi IP Phone and (d) Wi-Fi RFID Reader.


WMN Architecture Classifications

Infrastructure Meshing

Client Mesh Networking

Hybrid Mesh Networking

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Mesh routers form an mesh infrastructure among themselves. Two types of radios are used in the routers one for backbone communication and other for user communciation . Provides backbone for clients and enables integration of WMNs with existing wireless networks and Internet through gateway/bridge functionalities. Clients connect to mesh router with wireless link or Ethernet

Infrastructure Meshing

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Client WMNs
Client nodes constitute peer-to-peer network, and perform routing and configuration functionalities as well as provide end-user applications to customers, mesh routers are not required. Multi-hop routing. Client nodes have to perform additional functions such as routing and selfconfiguration.

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Hybrid WMNs
A combination of infrastructure and client meshing. Infrastructure provides connectivity to other networks such as the Internet, WiFi, WiMAX, cellular, and sensor networks;

Mesh clients can access the network through mesh routers as well as directly meshing with other mesh clients.
The routing capabilities of clients provide better connectivity and coverage

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WMNs Characteristics
Multi-hop wireless networks WMNs extend the coverage range of current wireless networks without sacrificing the channel capacity Communication beyond line of sight is possible by using multi hop wireless mesh networks

Support for Ad Hoc networking, and capability of self-forming, self-healing, and self-organization
Mobility dependence on the type of mesh nodes

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WMNs Characteristics
Multiple types of network access Back haul access to the internet and peer to peer communications are supported

Dependence of power-consumption constraints on the type of mesh nodes Compatibility and interoperability with existing wireless networks
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Protocol Design
Physical Layer Mac Layer Network Layer Transport Layer Application Layer Network Management Security

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Physical Layer Technologies

Orthogonal frequency multiple access (OFDM) has significantly increased the speed of IEEE 802.11 from 11 mbps to 54 mbps. Ultra-wide band (UWB) can achieve much higher rate for shortdistance applications.

Frequency agile or cognitive radios can achieve much better spectrum utilization. Software Defined Radio (SDR)

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Physical Layer: Research Issues

Improve the transmission rate and the performance of physical layer techniques
OFDM, UWB Multiple-antenna systems Frequency agile

Design higher layer protocols to utilize the advanced features provided by physical layers
MAC protocols for directional and smart antennas MAC protocols for MIMO systems Communication protocols for cognitive radios

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MAC Layer
Differences between WMNs MACs and Wireless Networks MACs
MACs for WMNs are concerned with more than one hop communication

MAC must be distributed and collaborative, and must work for multipoint-to-multipoint communication.
Network self-organization is needed for better collaboration between neighboring nodes and nodes in multi-hop distances. Mobility affects the performance of MAC.

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Single Channel MACs

Improving Existing MAC Protocols
Adjust parameters of CSMA/CA Only achieve a low end-to-end throughput.

Cross-layer design with advanced physical layer techniques

MAC based on directional antenna can eliminate exposed nodes, but may introduce more hidden nodes MAC with power control can reduce exposed nodes, improve spatial-reuse, but hidden nodes still exist

Proposing Innovative MAC Protocols

Revisiting MAC protocols based on TDMA or CDMA Design complexity and cost. Compatibility with existing MAC protocols

February 18, 2014 Not scalable, available bandwidth ~(1/2)^n

Multi-Channel MACs
Multi-Channel Single-Transceiver MAC
Only one channel is active in each node, different nodes can use different channels. Need to coordinate transmissions between nodes

Multi-Channel Multi-Transceiver MACs

Multiple parallel RF front-end chips and baseband processing. One MAC layer module to coordinate multiple channels.

Multi-Radio MACs

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Multiple radios, each with its own MAC and physical layers. Communications in these radios are totally independent. A virtual MAC protocol to coordinate communications in all channels.


MAC Layer : Research Issues

Scalable Single-Channel MACs

Scalable Multi-Channel MACs

Distributed and collaborative schemes to ensure scalability. Overall performance improvement in multiple channel Advanced bridging functions in the MAC layer so that different wireless radios can seamlessly work together. Reconfigurable/software radios may be the ultimate solution to these bridging functions. Modifying functions in the firmware or hardware is much more complicated and costly. New architecture such that MAC functions can be completely implemented in the software.

Network Integration in the MAC Layer

MAC Protocol Implementation

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Characteristics of routing protocols

Performance metrics Fault tolerance with link failures Load balancing. Scalability.

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Routing Layer
Features of routing protocol for WMNs:

Multiple Performance Metrics

Hop-count is not an effective routing metric. Other performance metrics, e.g., link quality and round trip time (RTT), must be considered.

Routing setup in large network is time consuming. Node states on the path may change. Scalability of routing protocol is critical in WMNs.
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Routing Layer
WMNs must be robust to link failures or congestion. Routing protocols need to be fault tolerant with link failures and can achieve load balancing.

Adaptive Support of Both Mesh Routers and Mesh Clients

Mesh routers : minimal mobility, no constraint of power consumption, routing is simpler
Mesh clients : mobility, power efficiency, routing is complicated

Need to design a routing protocol that can adaptively support both mesh routers and mesh clients.

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Routing Layer- Research Issues


Hierarchical routing protocols can only partially solve this problem Geographic routing relies positioning technologies. New scalable routing protocols need to be developed.

Better Performance Metrics

New performance metrics need to be developed.

Need to integrate multiple performance metrics into a routing protocol

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Routing Layer - Research Issues

Routing/MAC Cross-Layer Design
Needs to interact with the MAC layer, e.g. adopting multiple performance metrics from MAC layer. Merely exchanging parameters between them is not enough, merging certain functions of MAC and routing protocols is a promising approach. For multi-radio or multi-channel routing, the channel/radio selection in the MAC layer can help the path selection in the routing layer.

Hybrid Routing

Mesh routers and mesh clients have different constraints in power efficiency and mobility. Need to adaptively support mesh routers and mesh clients.

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Transport Layer: Research Issues

Cross-layer Solution to Network Asymmetry
Routing protocol can select an optimal path for both data and ACK packets. MAC layer and error control may need to treat TCP data and ACK packets differently.

Adaptive TCP

WMNs will be integrated with the Internet and various wireless networks such as IEEE 802.11, 802.16, 802.15, etc. Same TCP is not effective for all networks. Applying different TCPs in different networks is a complicated and costly approach, and cannot achieve satisfactory performance.

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Application Layer
Applications supported by WMNs:
Internet Access
Advantages of WMNs: low cost, higher speed, and easy installation. Data sharing between nodes within WMNs Query/retrieve information located in distributed database servers.

Distributed Information Storage and Sharing

Information Exchange across Multiple Wireless Networks.

Cellular phone talks Wi-Fi phone through WMNs, Wi-Fi user monitors the status of wireless sensor networks.

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Application Layer: Research Issues

Improve Existing Application Layer Protocols.
Lower layers protocols cannot provide perfect support for the application layer. E.g., packet loss and packet delay with a large jitter may fail many Internet applications Existing application layer protocols need to be improved.

New Application Layer Protocols for Distributed Information Sharing.

P2P protocols on the Internet may not perform well in WMNs, New application layer protocols need to be developed.

Develop Innovative Applications for WMNs

Applications cannot achieve best performance without WMNs. Enable WMNs to be a unique networking solution instead of just another option of wireless networking.

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Network Management Protocols

Mobility Management

Distributed scheme for WMNs can be simpler because the existence of backbone nodes Take advantages of the network backbone to design a lightweight distributed mobility management scheme for WMNs. Location service is a desired feature by WMNs.

Power Management

For mesh routers, power management aims to control connectivity, interference, spectrum spatial-reuse, and topology. For mesh clients, protocols should be power efficient.

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Network Management Protocols

Network Monitoring
Report statistics in the MIB to one or several servers. Data processing algorithms analyze these statistical data and determine potential abnormality.

To reduce overhead, schemes for efficient transmission of network monitoring information are expected.
To accurately detect abnormal operation and quickly derive network topology of WMNs, effective data processing algorithms need to be developed.

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WMNs lack efficient and scalable security solutions
Distributed network architecture Vulnerability of channels and nodes in the shared wireless medium Dynamic change of network topology.

Two strategies

Embedding security mechanism into network protocols Developing security monitoring response systems How to design and implement a practical security system, including cross-layer secure network protocols and various intrusion detection algorithms, is a challenging research topic.

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WMNs Standards
WPAN: Bluetooth, Zigbee WiFi: 802.11a, b, g, n WiMAX: 802.16





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100kb 1Mb



Data Rate


WMNs Standards
IEEE 802.16a WMAN Mesh
mesh mode in addition to the point-to-multipoint(PMP) mode defined in IEEE 802.16. Operating in the licensed and unlicensed lower frequencies of 211 GHz, allowing non-line-of-sight (NLO) communications, spanning up to a 50 km range. Supporting multihop communications.

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Akyildiz, I.F., Wang, X. and Wang, W., Wireless Mesh Networks: A Survey, Computer Networks Journal (Elsevier), March 2005. Gilbert Held ,Wireless Mesh Networks .

A.S.Tannebaum , Computer Networks .

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