Motorola, which added MeshNetworks to its wireless data solutions portfolio last year, today announced that Buffalo, MN has gone live with its Motorola Mesh Network solution, offering high-speed mobile broadband access to police and other city employees. As a result, Buffalo police patrol cars are now mesh-enabled, transforming them into mobile broadband offices.
Police officers now have instant high-speed access to mission critical data, video and multimedia communications providing them with greater situational awareness as they arrive on the scene of an incident. Additionally, 40 public works vehicles, along with other community agencies, are using the network. Public works crews can now access job site information while in the field, thereby eliminating trips back to headquarters and accelerating service response times.
MeshNetworks equipment doesn’t work with standard Wi-Fi, but instead uses QDMA (Quadrature Division Multiple Access) to get a full one-mile range. Motorola’s Mesh Networks technology was originally developed for the military battlefield and is self-forming and self-healing. Motorola says the technology is capable of delivering seamless broadband connections to vehicles moving at highways speeds.
Motorola’s unique Multi-Hopping capabilities turn each mesh-enabled radio into its own router/repeater. This allows users to hop through other users to reach network access points. Motorola’s Mesh Network products also offer fast and accurate tracking capabilities without the use of GPS satellites.
For the past decade, Buffalo (located 40 miles north of Minneapolis) relied on a text-only network for its mobile data communications. The city is using the mesh network to power public safety mission-critical applications, including in-field reporting, and access to the state’s criminal database from the officer’s patrol car.
Motorola will integrate components of MeshNetworks, including the MeshNetworks Positioning System and MeshConnex software suites, into future data products such as those in the recently allocated 4.9GHz FCC licensed band allocated to the public safety infrastructure. Each node is licensed to operate with a maximum Effective Radiated Power (ERP) of up 16W at 4.9 GHz. Currently, the Motorola-Mesh Networks products utilize the 2.4GHz band.
PacketHop, (above), is based on the TBRPF protocol, one of two Mobile Ad hoc NETworking (Manet) protocols specified by the Internet Engineering Task Force. AODV is the other. Ad hoc, On demand, Distance Vector, published by NIST, and used by LocusWorld, is a leading standard for wireless mesh networking.
MeshNetworks Adaptive Transmission Protocol tightly binds to the underlying radio platform. One problem with mesh, whether it’s used just for the backbone or whether data traffic gets routed through multiple end users, like in PacketHop & MeshNetworks, is there’s no standard (yet). That means you’ll have to stick with one mesh vendor.
Viasys is implementing MeshNetwork’s system in Medford, Oregon. Officials said the initial deployment will cost about $700,000, much of it covered by a $500,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The city is phasing out its cellular-based CDPD network and has coverage limitations with GPRS. Medford spans 22 square miles. Some 100 city workers initially used Medford’s mesh network. Meshnetwork’s MEA/QDMA technology has been successfully deployed in Portsmouth, England, Cocoa Beach, Florida and their home base in Maitland, Florida.
Companies like PacketHop, a spinoff of SRI, and MeshNetworks (Maitland, Fla.), have dominated mobile ad hoc networking by using specialized multi-hopping clients rather than standard WiFi cards. The modified WiFi clients also act as routers. They pass signals from nearby radios, hop-by-hop, through nearby radios until an internet connection is found. RoamAD and Firetide, SkyPilot also combine routers and access points.
Examples of commercial mesh networking gear for backhaul include BelAir Networks, Firetide, Strix and market leader Tropos Networks. They often use ordinary WiFi cards because the backbone mesh is handled separately. The mesh connection finds a backbone connection to the internet.
Mesh nodes, relaying block-to-block, often makes more sense than runing DSL lines to each node. City buildings often block signals from centralized towers, typical in WiMax distribution.
Microsoft’s Mesh Networking Summit in Snoqualmie, Washington, June 23-24, 2004, had a ton of interesting papers and videos.
MIT’s Roofnet is an experimental multi-hop 802.11b mesh network. Roofnet consists of about 50 nodes in apartments in Cambridge, MA. Each node is in radio range of a subset of the other nodes, and can communicate with the rest of the nodes via multi-hop forwarding. A few of the nodes act as gateways to the wired Internet. The Click Modular Router Project with an Optimized Link State Routing protocol may do the trick.
Roofnet can now be powered by a pared down Pebble Linux, a click modular router, stripped madwifi and an image for the Metrix Kit or a LiveCD for standard PCs. Locustworld, also has a MeshAP hardware solution.
The Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWiN), announced that its free open source mesh networking software is now available for download. The purpose is to make community-wide wireless networking as cheap and easy as possible.
DailyWireless has more on Scaling City-wide Mesh,