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 Friday, January 31, 2003

The IEEE has just announced it has approved the 802.16a extension to the 802.16 broadband wireless access (BWA) standard. See Roger Marks' tutorial on 802.16 (Zipped PowerPoint) to understand why this is important for providing broadband wireless access. 802.16a provides improved support for mesh networks, where each subscriber access point is also part of the routing infrastructure. For a general overview of the growing interest in non-line-of-sight wireless broadband systems, see the IEEE's Spectrum article: Wireless Broadband in a Box. For a more in-depth technical explanation with regard to mesh networks, see Dave Beyer's recent (November 2002) presentation on Wireless Mesh Networks for Residential Broadband (PDF), demonstrating some extremely important characteristics of mesh networks, namely:

  • mesh coverage and robustness improves exponentially as subscribers are added;
  • rapid area coverage with only a few subscribers (easy to seed);
  • increasing subscriber density increases overall network capacity.

Some earlier articles here on mesh networks can be found in "Cheap Wireless Mesh Networks", "Watch this airspace and parasitic networks" and "Seeding Mesh Networks".