Self Organizing Wireless Mesh Networks

Established: October 12, 2004

Community-based multi-hop wireless networks is disruptive to the current broadband Internet access paradigm, which relies on cable and DSL being deployed in individual homes. It is important because it allows free flow of information without any moderation or selective rate control. Compared to the large DSL and cable modem systems that are centrally managed, mesh networking is organic — everyone in the neighborhood contributes network resources and cooperates.

Overview

Researchers in Microsoft Research Redmond, Cambridge, and Silicon Valley are working to create wireless technologies that allow neighbors to connect their home networks together. There are many advantages to enabling such connectivity and forming a community mesh network. For example, when enough neighbors cooperate and forward each others packets, they do not need to individually install an Internet “tap” (gateway) but instead can share faster, cost-effective Internet access via gateways that are distributed in their neighborhood. Packets dynamically find a route, hopping from one neighbor’s node to another to reach the Internet through one of these gateways. Another advantage is that neighbors can cooperatively deploy backup technology and never have to worry about losing information due to a catastrophic disk failure. A third advantage is that this technology allows bits created locally to be used locally without having to go through a service provider and the Internet. Neighborhood community networks allow faster and easier dissemination of cached information that is relevant to the local community.

Community-based multi-hop wireless networks is disruptive to the current broadband Internet access paradigm, which relies on cable and DSL being deployed in individual homes. It is important because it allows free flow of information without any moderation or selective rate control. Compared to the large DSL and cable modem systems that are centrally managed, mesh networking is organic — everyone in the neighborhood contributes network resources and cooperates.

However, to realize the community-based goal, one has to solve many challenging problems including; capacity and range enhancement, privacy and security, self-stablizing and multi-path multi-hop routing, auto-configuration, bandwidth fairness, etc. In addition to solving the tough problems, success also depends on spectrum etiquette, business models, and economics. We are investigating some of the fundamental technical problems that continue to remain challenging despite several decades of research in packet radio networks. We have deployed testbed networks in our office buildings and in a local apartment complex.

Mesh Networking Academic Resource Toolkit 2005, 2007 (Retired)

If you are a faculty member or researcher at an accredited academic institution such as a university or college, you are invited to apply for our Mesh Networking Academic Resource Toolkit (Mesh Kit software download no longer available)– a research and teaching resource for exploring core technologies in wireless networks. This contains all the software and documentation you will need to get started.

 

People

People

Portrait of Victor Bahl

Victor Bahl

Technical Fellow & Chief Technology Officer, Azure for Operators

Portrait of Brian Zill

Brian Zill

Senior Research Software Development Engineer

Portrait of Jitu Padhye

Jitu Padhye

Principal Researcher