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802.11s extends wireless outdoors

Apr 17, 20062 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork Security

* IEEE working to develop standard for wireless LAN mesh networks

802.11s extends wireless outdoors

By Jim Murphy and Ashok Saraf

Access points interconnected with peer-to-peer wireless links create a backhaul infrastructure called a wireless mesh network. These networks extend service across large geographic areas, such as campuses or metropolitan areas, facilitating expanded broadband wireless applications.

An IEEE technical group is working to develop the 802.11s standard for wireless LAN (WLAN) mesh networking. At last month’s plenary session, the group announced the baseline document for the standard. The group expects to have an initial draft by July and a ratified 802.11s standard by early 2008.

The group is defining capabilities in several areas, including:

* Topology discovery.

* Path selection and forwarding.

* Channel allocation.

* Security.

* Traffic management.

* Network management.

Mesh networks introduce some new terminology. The mesh architecture defines a mesh point as a node that supports mesh services. A mesh point that supports access-point services as well as mesh services is called a mesh access point. A variant of a mesh point that connects into the wired network is called a mesh portal.

The existing 802.11 media access-control layer is being enhanced to support mesh services. Mesh networking will work with existing 802.11 radio technologies. Mesh services will be compatible with existing WLAN clients.

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Saraf is director of product marketing and Murphy is director of software engineering for Trapeze Networks. They can be reached at and, respectively.