January 28, 2006
 

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Posted: 08.30.05

PacketHop Develops a Wireless Mesh Network

PacketHop, a California-based wireless start-up, has developed software it calls TrueMesh that uses existing wireless LAN adapter cards to create a peer-to-peer mesh network that eliminates the need for access points. Users of TrueMesh-equipped laptops or tablets running Windows XP can create an instant wireless network that routes data among computers. Every device in the mesh acts as its own wireless LAN access point.
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By Rita Kushnir




PacketHop licensed the mesh software from its original inventor SRI International and has been working on its further development for the past three years. One of the major changes was the creation of a public-key infrastructure for managing digital certificates among mobile clients that are in constant motion. Other developments include a public-safety collaboration application, a management console and a software gateway that links remote PacketHop mesh networks over conventional WANs.

Previously, several other companies including BelAir, Nortel, Strix and Tropos have created fixed access points with multiple radios and routing algorithms that create an outdoor wireless mesh. PacketHop took this concept a step further when it created a mobile mesh that forms and reforms as wireless computers come within a range of one another. Emphasis on mobility makes TrueMesh a great tool for emergency, police and fire workers. TrueMesh computers can also connect to fixed conventional wireless LAN access points. Use of high-powered radio cards running at 30-50 milliwatts or higher is recommended.

As the radios move farther apart, throughput in 802.11 networks decreases. It declines also when mesh clients route or hop several radios to send or receive a message. PacketHop, however, claims that its algorithms optimize throughput so that it doesn’t fall below 60 to 70 percent after four or five hops. Maximum throughput for the recommended 11g Network Interface Cards is approximately 20M to 23M bps. So users with more than four or five hops can expect to be between 15 and 20 bps.

PacketHop plans to start shipping its software in September. The management console with gateway software costs $25,000 and each client runs about $2,000.



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