Connectivity between people and processes has increased in the past few years. Cell phones, laptops, and other connected devices are used for social and business practices. The development of networks provides excellent potential for options that best suit the needs of a business. One network that has much to offer is a mesh network.
What is a Mesh Network?
A mesh network is one in which a node is connected to other nodes in a branched network. Since all the nodes are linked, they can communicate with one another directly rather than going through a central access point. A mesh network can be wireless or wired. The wireless choice offers a more extensive range but is more complex than wired mesh.
Regarding a mesh network’s topology, there are two options: full mesh and partial mesh. A full mesh topology is where each node has a direct connection to every other node and communicates without going through any other device, node, or access point. This option is great for a company looking for flexibility with communication. Additionally, it is a safer operation in the case of a node failure. A partial mesh topology is where all nodes are directly or indirectly connected, but some do not directly connect to other nodes. With nodes that lack a direct connection, communication must be passed on through the nodes connected to both the sender and the desired receiver. Partial mesh networks offer an excellent connection between devices and nodes and can help advance your business.
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5 Things to Know
Are Mesh Networks Safe to Operate?
Due to the structure of mesh networks, all nodes are connected and do not rely on specific nodes to complete their functions. This means that if a node does fail, the rest can continue to operate without a problem. There are also no traffic problems, as each node has dedicated lines that no other nodes use. With direct connections, finding the source of any intrusion or attack is easier, allowing for quick detection and protection within the network. Not only is protection more accessible, but it is also easy to replace a single compromised or defective node within a mesh network. This works together to provide safe operations when using a mesh network.
How Expensive is a Mesh Network?
Most things that provide tremendous value cost a significant value. This is the case regarding mesh networks, as they are often more costly than alternatives. It is not simply due to one network area but the entire process of setting it up to the desired specifications. The expenses often depend on your business and what you want.
The ubiquity of connected nodes is needed for long-range connectivity, which requires more money to pay for the installation and connection of nodes. Power also drains more within mesh networks, adding another cost for each connected network. Further, the costs do not end with the initial investment; maintenance and utility costs are also to consider. Excellent connectivity within the mesh network comes at a high price and might not be the most affordable option for businesses with a low budget.
How is a Mesh Network Different from Wifi?
Even though they may seem similar, mesh networks are different from Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi similarly offers connections between devices and often easy ways to communicate with one another. Wi-Fi does this, however, by directing all communication through a centralized access point and then redirecting it to the desired receiver. This reliance on an established access point is not a problem for some businesses, but for those that want to go further, mesh networks provide an improved level of connectivity. With each node directly connected, there is no need for a Wi-Fi router or central access point to communicate with other nodes. This critical difference offers greater flexibility and direct connectivity, which has convinced many companies to switch to mesh networks.
How Complex is a Mesh Network?
The characteristic direct connection between nodes has already been mentioned, but the complexity of this connection warrants greater attention. Because each node can receive and send messages, it must be both a messenger and a router, especially within a partial mesh network. In this network, some nodes have limited access routes within the topology. Limited access nodes act as routers for messages directed to and from the nodes with access to both sender and receiver. Each node needs to be equipped with specific software and hardware to perform these functions, which is why prices may be high. Installation is also known to be complex. Each node has three radios within a mesh network to provide the desired range. This complexity often creates difficulties in pricing and installation, as well as the speed of processing. Due to its complexity and often the reliance on a node’s power, messages may take longer to transmit and receive. Mesh network connectivity has excellent benefits, but its technology is also very complex.
Mesh Network Use Cases
After discovering the different options mesh networks offer, one might ask, ”Can I use this in my industry? The most accurate answer is, ”It depends.” Mesh networks are being used in multiple industries. Within public service, mesh networks are being used to aid communication within law enforcement, firefighting, and other first responders. The environment and ecosystem are also monitored with several mesh network nodes. Manufacturing companies use mesh networks for embedded sensors within their technology to alert and communicate when equipment requires maintenance or installation. Hospitals also use these networks to monitor patients when no doctors and nurses are present. The military, automotive, and security industries also use these mesh networks. Those are just a few examples of how mesh networks can help your business, but the list of uses does not end there and is still growing.
Mesh Networks for Asset Tracking
Many use cases for mesh networks are centered around the goal of tracking company assets. For example, as stated previously, the primary manufacturing use case of communicating when equipment requires maintenance goes hand-in-hand with asset tracking use cases aligned with predictive and preventative maintenance.
Asset tracking with mesh networks works best in a confined space, where access points and nodes can be set up intuitively to maximize their effectiveness and accuracy. Although mesh networks consume considerable power, they are easily more power efficient than other popular options with similar location accuracy, such as UWB, and safer than relying on an established Wi-fi network. As reflected previously, whether a mesh network is right for you will depend largely on your business’s unique goals and budget, but it is an option that has its uses.
If you’re in the market for an asset tracking solution that addresses your business’s needs without breaking the bank, book a demo with Link Labs today.