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Wireless Networking Intel Hardware

Introducing 802.11s - Wireless Mesh Networking 253

Posted by timothy
from the pass-it-on dept.
ikewillis writes "Intel has introduced a new wireless networking standard called 802.11s. This standard utilizes a mesh topology, allowing for fully self-configuring networks where each node can relay messages on behalf of others, thus increasing the range and available bandwidth with the number of nodes active within the system, versus the point-to-point structure of existing WiFi networks. This will radically transform WiFi hotspots, allowing the geographical area and available bandwidth on the network to scale with the number of participants."
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Introducing 802.11s - Wireless Mesh Networking

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  • This is great but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by readpunk (683053) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:06PM (#11871780) Journal
    WiMax and other technologies like it will still be much more important because, do we really want a grid of short range networks that will ultimately cause divisions between different parts of the networks if one node goes down or would we prefer enourmously large networks that overlap each other (the different nodes) once or twice or thrice?
    • by Blender (178901)
      You could also combine the two. Create a short range wireless LAN using mesh technology. And connect those short range WLAN's using WiMAX.
      • WiFi should stay where it is, in very localized places inside your home or in a small area to serve a small LAN. WiMAX would be great for local ISPs to cover a nice sized area, but with the backbone still on land lines.
    • by Cryofan (194126) <cryofan@@@yahoo...com> on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:10PM (#11871838) Homepage Journal
      once you get licenses in the picture, you disempower the smaller entities and empower the larger entities. And I think that most Americans are starting to see that whenever larger entities gain power over small entities and citizens, then things start to go sour...

      • by mveloso (325617) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:24PM (#11872003)
        Just an FYI, WiMAX runs across both licensed and unlicensed bands.

      • by gid13 (620803) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:42PM (#11872155)
        Frankly, I have a certain suspicion that most Americans (perhaps even more than other nationalities) are too busy watching wrestling, praising Jesus, declaring war on abstract nouns, etc., to pay attention to whether the leader of their country is capable of rational discourse, let alone whether a particular wireless protocol is empowering large companies or not.

        (Yes, I'm going for an even split between funny and troll).
      • "once you get licenses in the picture, you disempower the smaller entities and empower the larger entities. And I think that most Americans are starting to see that whenever larger entities gain power over small entities and citizens, then things start to go sour..."

        Fine, you can have your home-grown crappy WiFi network with a hundred hops to get to the next town. I can't believe this anti-corporate conspiracy bullshit gets modded up. Most of the products and services I buy are from large corporations. I'v
        • corporations have no power that isn't given to them by choices consumers make

          Just a for instance [wikipedia.org]
        • by Dasch (832632) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @02:49AM (#11874743)
          I'm sorry to hear that that's how you feel about your government - maybe you should vote differently next time?

          Here in Scandinavia we tend to trust governmental institutions more than private ones, simply because any sort of scandal (bribery, abuse, etc.) not only has economical, but also political consequences. Hence, if an employee in the public system (which is rather large, compared the yours) is found guilty of some sort of abuse of his position, his whole department will be thoroughly investigated and there will probably be made some new rules (maybe even laws) in order to prevent it from happening again.

          If a corporation misuses its position it can be fined, and some people might get thrown to jail. That doesn't prevent the next corporation in the line to do the same thing though.

          Conclusion: Democratic (public) institutions/companies has a hgher incentive towards fighting corruption that private (non-democratic) have. Unless you of course think that the US public institutions aren't democratic...
    • by dspisak (257340)
      I've yet to see a single piece of WiMAX gear materilaize anywhere. I'll be surprised if any of it is out by years end. WiMAX is geared towards long distance, static location hauls. You might be able to make it work as a mesh network but you would be better served by a dense mesh network so you have redundancy and multiple antennas you can recieve and send to to help with radio contention.
    • What's the point of wireless mesh networking? By its very nature, it'll always be a broadcast network rather than a point-to-point network, so as the number of users goes up, the available bandwidth goes down. I'd think you'd want to get your connection off the air and into wires as fast as possible.
      • by PaulBu (473180)
        I've read the scenarios for the wireless kind of "mesh" which assume that "all devices are created equal", regardless of if they are routers connected to the wall outlet or a (potentially on its last drops of juice) cellphones/PDAs. If such a thing really takes off you will NEVER get "stand-by" power consumption and battery life from your (constantly transmitting other people's data) cellphone.

        Paul B.

      • by Surt (22457) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:03PM (#11872355) Homepage Journal
        Actually, available bandwidth can increase with users in some situations. It depends on how many bands are available, how many landline connections, topology, etc. Lots of factors to consider.

        As a trivial example, consider two networks, one with mesh one without

        A net1 B mesh C net2 D

        Bandwidth from A - D is the minimum(net1, mesh, net2).

        versus:

        A net1 B nothing C net2 D

        bandwidth from A - D is 0.

        As a slightly more complex example: /-mesh1-B-\
        A--D
        mesh1 \-mesh2-C-/

        Is the bandwidth from A-D more or less with or without C?

        • Yes, but how often are you really connecting to a server within a couple hundred feet of where you are sitting. While correct I think your response isn't quite relevant.

          However, I think the initial assumption, that a mesh network is necessarily broadcast, is simple incorrect. One can use broadcast packets to collect routing information and then implement a point-point network. Well as point to point as one can get using wireless networks, i.e., your packet needs only be replicated by one host amoung you
      • by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:23PM (#11872496) Homepage Journal
        Have you ever installed one wireless access point, and wished you could install a second, within wireless range of the first, without running a second cable? Most access points can't do that, even though most people expect them to be able to before being told otherwise. Mesh networking would enable this sort of networking, and much more.

        The performance will always be less than an "every AP has its own landline" topology, but networks will be much easier to build (and perhaps simpler to maintain).

        • by asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:31AM (#11873911)

          Have you ever installed one wireless access point, and wished you could install a second, within wireless range of the first, without running a second cable? Most access points can't do that, even though most people expect them to be able to before being told otherwise. Mesh networking would enable this sort of networking, and much more.


          Are you talking about a repeater? I believe most of the cheap linksys APs can be set up to be repeaters instead.

      • What's the point of wireless mesh networking? By its very nature, it'll always be a broadcast network rather than a point-to-point network, so as the number of users goes up, the available bandwidth goes down. I'd think you'd want to get your connection off the air and into wires as fast as possible.

        Not to mention, security. This opens up a wide-open area for Bad People to do Bad Things with much more ease.
    • by teoryn (801633)
      I believe the idea is that each node is also hooked to the internet, or at least a good number of them. From there the pressure on any one internet connection could be reduced by distributing it to other nodes. However, even if a mesh was seperated, there would still be an internet connection for each side of the divide.
  • s? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oen_Seneg (673357) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:07PM (#11871794)
    where do they get all these letters from? There seems to be 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g and now 802.11s, and I have no idea why the letters are what they are. Anyone care to explain?
    • Re:s? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Tatarize (682683) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:10PM (#11871843) Homepage
      No. We will not explain.

      However, we will chide you for not including 802.11n on your list!
    • Goofy letters (Score:4, Informative)

      by Fisch2 (857454) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:13PM (#11871883) Homepage
      http://computer.howstuffworks.com/wireless-network 2.htm [howstuffworks.com]

      Check out the whole article to find out more about the various 802.11x standards (excluding the new 's' one).
    • Re:s? (Score:2, Funny)

      by CmdrObvious (680619)
      no, but i bet if you were to go to www.google.com and type in something like "why is it called 802.11b" you just "MIGHT" find an answer....



      of course in Soviet Russia... you explain to the government... I know, but somebody had to say it...
      • Re:s? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ThisIsFred (705426)
        Just for the hell of, I did:

        Your search - "why is it called 802.11b" - did not match any documents.

        I think that's the first time Google every came up with nothing.
    • Re:s? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Xeo 024 (755161) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:15PM (#11871908)
      What do the letters mean?

      "Task groups within the 802.11 WG enhance portions of the 802.11 standard. A particular letter corresponding to each standard/revision, such as 802.11a, 802.11b, and so on, represents the different task groups. For example, Task Group B (i.e., 802.11b) was responsible for upgrading the initial 802.11 standard to include higher data rate operation using DSSS in the 2.4GHz band."

      From 802.11 Alphabet Soup [wi-fiplanet.com].
    • Re:s? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Evan Meakyl (762695) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:16PM (#11871917)
      to tell the truth, 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11c, 802.11d, ... exists, but some are less used (and known) than others.

      More info (with explanations) here [wi-fiplanet.com]
    • Re:s? (Score:5, Funny)

      by AvantLegion (595806) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:22PM (#11871972) Journal
      802.11a = apathy. No one really paid much attention
      802.11b = bad. It works but there's better to come
      802.11g = good. Now it's worth using
      802.11s = shit. That's what users on the fringe of the network will be screaming when the "link" node between the access point and them finishes their lunch and leaves, cutting them off too

      • Re:s? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DaveJay (133437) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:13PM (#11872425)
        802.11a = apathy. No one really paid much attention

        You're right there, and this makes 802.11a a great thing to have. I'm running my home network on 802.11a, and here are the benefits I reap versus 802.11b/g:

        1. When the hardware was available but on the way out, it was -very- cheap to pick up;

        2. The range is much more limited than b/g, but big enough to cover my house and backyard, so I have less worry about "sharing" my connection with my neighbors than with b/g;

        3. The 802.11a range is underutilized (my neighbors don't have 802.11a, and yours probably don't, either) and doesn't shut down by interference when you use the microwave;

        4. Someone wardriving or just playing around with wireless sniffing tools from their bedroom are much less likely to be using 802.11a; in fact, until recently airsnort and related tools didn't even have 802.11a compatibility, and getting 802.11a working with Linux is a PITA compared to 802.11b/g.

        So in a way, using 802.11a improves your odds of a secure and non-shared connection in the same way that using Opera improves your odds of picking up a javascript exploit from a web site. That's not security in and of itself, but coupled with VPN and the reduced range, it's very nice indeed.
    • Because, as we all know, P2P networks are EVIL.

      Signed,
      The MPAA/RIAA.
    • As I said in some previous [slashdot.org] post...

      My preeciousss.
    • It's only a matter of time before they run out of letters. I see a crisis at hand, here!!
    • These numbers are all standards of the IEEE [ieee.org] (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]). The standards that this group comes up with are usually referred to by their numbers, such as IEEE 1394 (Firewire) or the 802.11 standards. The 802.11 standards are different implementations of wireless LAN-type tech. The letters represent revisions/different standards.
  • by BWJones (18351) * on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:07PM (#11871795) Homepage Journal
    Well, mesh networking does not necessarily need a new 802.11x spec. This article [tombridge.com] on Tom Bridges blog [tombridge.com] is republished from the first issue of Make [makezine.com] outlines how to create mesh networks using an Airport Express.

    • Let's see a network specification vs a kludge. Let me think...

      We can make a faster computers or wire together a dozen old computers and get the same speed.
    • Uh, am I misreading, or is that article about WDS? WDS is not mesh networking.
      • WDS is not mesh networking.
        Why not? WDS can be used to build mesh networks, just not very good ones. WDS meshes typically use the ethernet spanning tree protocol (STP) for their routing algorithm, which produces highly suboptimal routes most of the time. I have built a WDS mesh under linux with the HostAP driver and brctl. It worked alright with a couple nodes, but I wouldn't expect it to perform well if I tried to connect dozens of nodes.
    • Mesh networks using 802.11b/g equipment have fundamental issues...namely they can only really operate on a single channel, thus share bandwidth. In that sense, they scale badly.

      You can get around this by having multiple antennas/radios, but that gets expensive.
    • You might want to check this [unibas.ch] out... there are practical problems with large diameter networks. Some of the problems lay at the MAC layer (i.e. in the specs), so solving them probably requires radically new thinking.

      The problem with the rosy view is that most real study has been done in simulation. There are not a lot of papers detailing real, large scale testbeds (with a literal handful of exceptions).

      And the airport is nice, but I wouldn't want to participate as a mobile node with that card without an e
  • by drivinghighway61 (812488) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:07PM (#11871803)
    The way things are going, cities won't be able to provide this for their citizens. No one needs a network this big for personal usage; if municipal wi-fi is banned, it will be for naught.
  • by millisa (151093) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:07PM (#11871807)
    I think it sure would be nifty to see this type of AP installed in cars and have uplink points along major highways . . . It'd be a fluid network that would improve with traffic . . . Then again, maybe encouraging heavier traffic is a bad thing . . . it'd still be cool.
    • On a related note, Amateur Radio has been using APRS [usna.edu] for amateur radio operators to send their location (via GPS) and other information (such as weather conditions or short messages) using the 2 meter (144.390 MHz) frequency.

      The local digipeter picks up the APRS packet and forwards it to another digipeter or an internet-connected station, at which point the packet information is visible on several web sites.

      Creating a mesh of access points for 802.11b is not a trivial task, but proper coordination within

      • Yep. And it works just great! Except that packets are repeated over and over again, reducing the total bandwidth dramatically. Read more about it here. [navy.mil]

        Now, Bruninga gets a little overboard at times talking about how bad the current APRS system is, but he does live in one of the high use areas. The interesting thing about his proposal outlined in the link is that he recomends setting up a high speed backbone system to relieve the stress on the current mesh network. I think it could be a very useful thing fo

  • It SOUNDS good... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816)

    What does intel get out of it, besides a new niche (for now - popularity comes later) to sell their hardware into? Last I checked intel wasn't exactly #1 in the AP market, which is where 802.11s will make the biggest splash. I just can't manage to trust intel.

    Since it's a [proposed] IEEE standard it will be available to anyone for a nominal fee, yes?

    Also, since when did intel invent the idea of a gateway between a mesh network and a non-mesh network? They exist already.

    Finally, are there any techn

  • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:08PM (#11871824) Homepage
    Intel has not introduced the 802.11s standard; Intel has made a proposal to the IEEE, which they will take into consideration while designing the 802.11s standard.

    The article makes 802.11s sound like a general mesh standard, which would be really nice. However, what I read on the IEEE Web site recently made it sound like merely a self-configuring version of WDS (so that only access points participate in the mesh). Can anyone provide details on the features of Intel's proposal?
    • by e271828 (89234) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:37PM (#11872585)
      Actually, Intel has not yet issued a formal proposal to IEEE, but since they are playing a key role in the 11s task group, they will almost certainly be issuing their proposal in response to the call for proposals that just went out in late January. Proposals are due June 15th, I believe.

      As for the details of what has been discussed so far in the 11s task group, anyone can sign up for an account at 802wirelessworld [802wirelessworld.com], and obtain access to all the documents submitted for consideration to the task group so far. (Once you register and login, a link for Documents shows up under 802.11 WLAN WG on the left of the page.)

      Various usage scenarios have been considered, from the scale of the home ( a few devices) to larger scale community meshes. The standard will work on any "mesh-aware" point, which may be an AP or a client device. It will likely run at layer 2 (below the IP layer) and provide a standards based mechanism for multi-hop access to a wired gateway (or "mesh portal" as they refer to it).

    • by j h woodyatt (13108) <jhw@conjury.org> on Monday March 07, 2005 @10:19PM (#11872856) Homepage Journal
      However, what I read on the IEEE Web site recently made it sound like merely a self-configuring version of WDS (so that only access points participate in the mesh).

      Yes, that's basically the idea behind the 802.11s Task Group-- but the phrase "self-configuring version of WDS" really doesn't quite go far enough in describing the concept. It's sort of like describing the Internet protocol as a "self-configuring version of frame-relay". Probably not helpful.

      Wireless mesh networks are multi-hop in a way fundamentally more complicated than the simple access point and a bunch of associated stations. They'll have to run a routing protocol and forward from mesh node to mesh node in an efficient and secure way. They'll have to be robust in the face of individual node failure. They'll have to support stations roaming securely between nodes in the same mesh network. It's a whole lot more then just self-configuring WDS.

      Folks shouldn't get too excited about this standard. There are a lot of obstacles to making large multi-hop 802.11 networks as efficient as similarly wired topologies. The 802.11s task group isn't chartered with fixing the problems in the MAC layer that keep multi-hop networks from scaling up to very large meshes.

      What are the problems? The big one is that they have a profoundly negative effect on TCP fairness. Next up is that multicast is just horrible. Even on regular 802.11 infrastructure networks, it's just horrible. On mesh networks, don't be surprised if it's even worse.
  • IIRC, the Nintendo DS acts as a router/node to other DS consoles - okay speed may be different but topology is pretty much the same surely?
  • FreeMeshWeb? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stanistani (808333) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:11PM (#11871855) Homepage Journal
    Set up enough of these, and you could do your own neighborhood network...

    Could this jump-start the "freeweb" movement, particularly since the telcos are lobbying and pushing to kill the muni wireless attempts?

    Let's get the entrepreneurs and the networking hippies on the same "frequency."
    • ...So that every non geek in my neighborhood can log onto my machine and suck my bandwidth dry? Not a chance!

      There aren't enough geeks per cubic block to do this communally. It would probably require public donations (or public tax dollars) as a non-profit neighborhood improvement activity.

    • Let's get the entrepreneurs and the networking hippies on the same "frequency."

      And get people to contribute to the cause until it "hertz".

  • by Nimsoft (858559) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:13PM (#11871874)
    What happens when a node goes down between several other nodes and the other nodes are now out of range of each other? The network will split and the result will be two seperate networks that are unable to reach each other until the connecting node is up again. Will users be constantly facing problems similar to IRC netsplits? Not to mention that all equipment would need to be replaced to take advantage of this new standard. I'd be more interested in longer range, or more robust signals that can penetrate more obstacles.
    • by mveloso (325617)
      The whole idea behind a mesh network is there is no single point of failure.

      That does mean you have to design things so there isn't a single point of failure...unless you want a single point of failure, of course.

      The spec just addresses the nuts and bolts of devices talking to each other. It doesn't take the place of an intelligent designer.
    • IRC is a tree network, not a mesh.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:03PM (#11873147) Journal
      What happens when a node goes down between several other nodes and the other nodes are now out of range of each other? The network will split and the result will be two seperate networks that are unable to reach each other until the connecting node is up again.

      (Assuming they did it right...)

      If the connecting node that dies was the ONLY PATH LEFT between you and the guy you want to talk to, yes it splits.

      If there is another path available you reroute.

      Just like when an earthquake or flood takes out highways and bridges.

      Just like the internet used to be - and to a large extent still is in the core.
    • by adolf (21054) * <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @02:19AM (#11874572) Journal
      The problems are obvious, and you've already identified them.

      But it's no different from anything else on today's Internet - there's single points of failure all over the place which can affect thousands of people at once.

      Likewise, the power grid sure doesn't seem very grid-like when I'm waiting through a blackout.

      *shrug*

      The problems with range and penetration are not unique to 802.11, but exist with all unlicensed radio equipment, and are a function of a combination of physics and regulation.

      Lower frequencies tend to penetrate solid materials better, but tend to suffer limited speed in practical use and are all gobbled up with commercial, public safety, and TV use. Higher frequencies tend to be more available, and are more easily absorbed and reflected by solid materials, but tend to have higher speeds in practical use.

      In the US, there's very strict limits on spectrum usage and output power in the unlicensed ISM bands. Manufacturers don't make higher-powered equipment, because legally nobody (except for some amateur operators) would be able to use it.

      That said, there's an obvious answer to the range and penetration thing. You just do the same thing you'd do if you wanted better TV reception: Buy a bigger antenna [hyperlinktech.com].

      This isn't rocket science. Radio, at the level that you and I have to care about, hasn't changed a whole lot since the invention of the tuner.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...right....so more people in one area all on the same frequency so they can mesh. So how exactly is the speed going to be anything reasonable or reliable if you're increasing the spectrum noise?
    • I brought up the same issue when someone mentioned using existing gear for mesh networks.

      I hope that the 802.11s spec is clever enough to account for this fundamental issue - multiple on-chip radios would solve it - allowing users to be a part of several physically overlapping but channel separated cells.
  • I recall the Wifi band is somewhere around 2.4GHz, which also happens to be the band absorbed by water. You know... like in your microwave oven... wave absorption heats the water, hence the "cooking".
    • Serious question here, because I've always heard that it's the water in food which gets "excited" by the microwave energy that cooks food.

      Why is it then if I place a porcelain/ stoneware plate in my microwave that it gets extremely hot after a few minutes "cooking"?

      Surely there's no residual "water" in my cookware.
      • Water is actually not opaque to 2.4ghz radiation. If it was, your food would burn on the outside while staying cold on the inside. It's more like it's translucent - some of it gets through, some doesn't. Your plate may be more opaque to microwave, not because it contains water, but because it happens to be made out of something else that happens to absorb microwave radiation as well.

        Water interferes much more significantly with microwave radio transmissions at above 10 ghz.

    • Informative? If what you suggest was true, wouldn't our skin and ears also suffer ill effects? I don't think telephone companies would take chances with the public's ears. In in the US, cordless phones also use 2.4 Ghz- and can cause inteference with wireless networking, which also has been scientifically proved to causes testicles to explode! You'd better replace any 2.4 Ghz wireless phones right away. Don't wait!
  • Is anyone else even the slightest bit concerned about all the background radiation these technologies create. We have wireless in our homes, FM/AM radio broadcasts floating around, bluetooth devices, WAP's in restaurants, coffee houses, my car dealership, etc. etc. etc. Does anyone have any links to research showing that all of this "noise" is safe to our fragile human bodies? Or is the ability to download porn anywhere, anytime more important to everyone?
    • No, but we do have plenty of studies proving that it will kill you and you deserve large sums of money!
    • The frequency that water absorbs has to be really quick specific... (2.45Ghz more or less) but, more importantly, if your out of that band by much (like a couple of mhz either side) water just doesnt absorb it. What DOES worry me is that while water absorbs at 2.45Ghz, we done have a much data which talks about other compounds in the human body, and their absorbtions wavelengths... if i remember my physics correctly though, its belived water has the lowest frequency of absorbption, i.e. everything's only h
    • I guess the main point is that microwaves are classified as "non-ionising" radiation. That is, they dont contain enough energy to break mollecular bonds, thus our cells are generally safe from damage and mutation. The only non-ionising radiation which we know causes problems is ultraviolet.

      see this site [cancerhelp.org.uk] for a good summary.

      So, the main effect of radio waves is heating, and at 30mW per device spread out over a room, it's pretty weak.

      Before you get too paranoid, radio and microwaves have less energy than
    • Well I'll ask you to consider a few things first...
      1. Calculate the energy density from all of these sources.
      2. Compare to sunlight energy density at > 1KW/M^2
      3. Factor in sunlight containing an ionizing radation componant.
      4. Factor in pr0n health benifits. here [newscientist.com] and here [google.com]

      So yes it is safer to sit at home with the microwaves and pr0n that to go outside.
    • Yes, exposure to EM radiation is dangerous. So is exposure to sunlight. While you should not needlessly expose yourself to EMR, the power involved is low compared to other sources that we are pretty blase about.

      There is a lot of info available on the subject [arpansa.gov.au].
  • by sploxx (622853) on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:24PM (#11871996)
    There are already many research projects ongoing which try to find good routing algorithms and network topologies for IP based mesh networks.

    Most of these projects try to build their mesh networks on the IP level, i.e. hardware and, IMHO even more important, medium independent.

    This standard seems to work below the IP level, i.e. invisible for normal routing hardware and only usable with those "s" devices.

    I wonder if this is really a good idea. Making such a standard prevents altering and improving the routing algorithms (because in the best case, they reside on some FPGA) or using mesh network topologies with, lets say, a mixed WiFi, free space optical (think house to house laser pointers :) and ethernet network. You'd need upgrades for a new routing algorithm and progress in this area will be much slower.
    OTOH, maybe the network will be more stable, but one has to prove that.
    • You could put IP routing in hardware or a mesh MAC protocol in software; people have done both. It's an orthogonal issue. In fact, 802.11 products seem to be moving towards having as much of the work done on the host as possible to reduce cost (think Winmodems).
  • WiMax S er.... a large meshing sort of wireless network with huge ranges, you could conquor the concept of ISP forever, and do all sorts of things for Africa and the like. Still 11s looks like it would be at least slightly nifty.
  • by smug_lisp_weenie (824771) * <cbarski.4503440@bloglines.com> on Monday March 07, 2005 @08:28PM (#11872034) Homepage
    Couldn't this theoretically replace the internet altogether? Once the densities of these "s" hotspots is high enough, wouldn't it be theoretically possible to retrieve a page, send an email, etc. without ever having to transmit the message over the internet "proper"?
    • Indeed... I can imagine that if it ever got implemented, it would be virtually impossible to put a lid on. Couple that with the Internet itself and I can easily see free broadband internet for everyone.
    • At best, this could replace the existing backbone only for limited areas. There is no way this could connect the US and Europe. Even across the US you would have, at best, very constricted bandwidth. If some group organized to put a series of mesh routers across the country, it would still be a trivial amount of bandwidth compared to the existing capacity.

      The other problem would be the number of hops required for long distance. If 1,000 hops are needed to go from NY to CA, what would the latency be?

      • The other problem would be the number of hops required for long distance. If 1,000 hops are needed to go from NY to CA, what would the latency be?

        VOIP... will w<schreck> really... Latency... not... concern <squalchuckaboom> us...

      • It should actually be done as part of a larger accounting picture where your contribution to the network is balanced against the resources you want. For example, you might have an ADSL connection that you allow to be partly shared over the WLAN network, and in recognition of your value contributed, you would accumlate local "accounting credit" that you might use for other purposes. Simple example, the people who use part of your ADSL agree to provide you some disk space to be used for backup storage, or the
    • What is really important about wifi is that it will give a really low cost alternative to basic broadband service. Especially when if municipal wifi is implemented.
      Once there broadband competition is there, it will drive down dsl and cable and phone prices.

      So, it doesn't have to replace what we already have--all we need from it is to break the chokehold the big telcos and cable companies have on broadband.

    • by mattbelcher (519012) <matt@mattbelch[ ]com ['er.' in gap]> on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:45PM (#11873563) Homepage
      Theoretically, no. Gupta and Kumar showed that the per-node bandwidth in such a network decreases with O(1/sqrt(n)) where n is the number of nodes. Thus, the more nodes you have, the less bandwidth each will get. As n approaches infinity, this number becomes 0.
  • This will radically transform WiFi hotspots, allowing the geographical area and available bandwidth on the network to scale with the number of participants.

    I suspect not, with thousands of participants, routing may become unmanagable. Also, in the best case bandwidth is only going to increase by the number of distinct paths between endpoints (a chain is only as strong as its weakest link). But, I suspect once an optimum path is chosen, all traffic will follow that path, and adding more nodes won't improve

  • Greatly increase the amount of noise out there. It will be lovely to see it battle with spectrum-hopping 2.4ghz equipment. Ah, what a fucked up mess it will all be.
  • by melted (227442) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:02PM (#11872345) Homepage
    "Wireless XML mesh adaptive grid networking high speed premium edition XP ultra pro elite extreme" standard.

    Just think about the synergies and win-win go to market opportunities that can be obtained by utilizing it.
  • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:41PM (#11872607)
    This is the end of the telco. A self-organizing internet of WiFi, once adopted on a massive scale, will obviate the need for the last mile provider. In all the states without protective legislation, municipalities will have one or two huge pipes for the wider municipal network to plug into, say at the Library and Town Hall, and let everyone's 802.11s hardware negotiate with each other the best path to it.

    The places that do have protective legislation will find themselves repealing it in the face of enormous public pressure.

    The only purpose of the telco will be to provide fiber for institutional and corporate clients concerned with security and guaranteed bandwidth.

    Good riddance.

    SoupIsGood Food
    • In that scenario, how much will the "one or two huge pipes" cost? If providers aren't selling a lot of pipes, they will cost a bunch, right? No volume discount, no costs spread amongst many users, etc.

      Unless all the fibre in the ground is a sunk cost, so to speak.

      • Ever heard of Emminent Domain?

        Who ever said that it couldnt be used against corporations that go agisnt the public good?

        IML's could be the future. InterMunicapality Links.

        Even better, you could base this system off of IPv6 and have Lat/Long coordinates for certain big hubs. Know the coords, know the IP, know where you're going through.
  • by shanen (462549) on Monday March 07, 2005 @10:11PM (#11872797) Homepage Journal
    Glad to see it's finally moving forward, though it's not exactly a new idea. Actually goes back much farther than in the following link (so I don't feel like it's really tooting my own horn), but just rehashing from a slightly different (more ideological?) perspective: We, the Internet [acm.org]. They should have a date somewhere on there, but it was probably 2000 or 2001 (but based on ideas that go back at least to the late '80s).

    Capsule summary--the privately-owned WLAN infrastructure should bypass and where possible replace the wired corporate-owned network infrastructure. There are three main facilitating aspects:

    1. Certain content is very popular, and can therefore greatly benefit from distributed caching.
    2. Much content is intrinsically local (such as local business specials and ads).
    3. The system can scale very well. Actually, by using variable power transmitters, as density increased the individual power requirements would actually decrease while the local bandwidth would remain constant, and without requiring any additional frequency spectrum.
  • I can't even combine two internet connections on my machine.

    Or give them tasks DESPITE having diffrent IP's on my usb wifi device, and 2 nics!

    What's up with that?
  • Slower! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mnmn (145599) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:26PM (#11873381) Homepage
    Will my 802.11s router run at 5mbps in a busy apartment, lending the remaining bandwidth to forwarding other packets?

    Will a wardriver in the parking lot be able to DDoS the mesh?

    Will I have to disable mesh and disallow all outside traffic the first time I install the router, if I just want to use the router myself? Will I be able to do that?
  • This is premature (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattbelcher (519012) <matt@mattbelch[ ]com ['er.' in gap]> on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:00AM (#11873688) Homepage
    As someone who does research in this area, I think this announcement is a little premature. There are several fundamental problems that have yet to be solved with this sort of wireless network topology, and I don't see any indication that the 802.11s task force has solved them.

    For example, no one has given a MAC protocol that solves the hidden/exposed sender/receiver problems simultaneously. Without such a MAC protocol, it is impossible to resolve the contention fairly. 802.11 DCF solves hidden and exposed sender, but not receiver.

    Also, Gupta and Kumar [bell-labs.com] showed that the per-node bandwidth in a wireless mesh with random node placement is O(1/sqrt(n)). This is especially bad news for the sort of nationwide wireless meshes people have been talking about here.

    Finally, TCP is especially problematic [ieee-infocom.org] over multiple wireless hops. It causes self-interference which creates massive packet loss due to contention. TCP is built on the assumption that all packet loss is from congestion, but this assumption is not met by wireless contention losses.

    In my own simulations, TCP's overaggression causes routing packet losses, creating spurious route breakage and even more TCP timeouts.

This is a good time to punt work.

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