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Wireless Meshes to become next big thing in community networks?

In another blog, I extolled the virtues of legal sharing. (opens in new tab) has another example of positive resource sharing, this time applied to hardware in the form of Wireless Mesh Networks.

These are comparable to the internet: they are relatively easy to set up, and are inexpensive, autonomous, reliable and resilient. Think of them as a scale-down, local version of the Internet.

WiFi and Wireless Mesh operate differently, and are not interchangeable. Wireless Mesh technology also differs from WiFi hotspots in that - in many cases - local councils or administrations, rather than private companies, set up the meshes. As such, they are geared towards using the community rather than producing good-looking figures for the balance sheet.

The purchased report compares 27 US-based LAN wireless mesh network products. This report highlights the benefits such a venture can bring in high density, relatively close agglomeration, although citywide coverage would be problematic.

Like Peer to Peer, Mesh networks actually depend on sharing resources in order to work effectively. There are literally hundreds of grass-root (opens in new tab) led organisations around the world that maintain independent meshes accessible by anyone with a wireless connection.

Needless to say, something like Bittorrent, which almost coerce the user to give as much as s/he receives, would be more than welcomed. However, Bandwidth heavy Bittorrent will not be the ideal application for low-cost, low-bandwidth mesh networks.

Wireless Mesh Networks will only pick up if hardware vendors make connectivity as cheap as chips; unfortunately that is not happening any time soon.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.