At Wireless World Research Forum meeting currently held in Chennai, there were two presentations on Mesh Networking. While Chanuka Wattegama of LIRNEasia spoke about the Sri Lankan experience, Sharad Jaiswal of Bell Labs, India presented a similar initiative in Bangalore. There were many similarities between the two on the approach.
VillageNet, the Bangalore initiative, is a low cost IEEE 802.11 WiFi based mesh network designed for connecting villages in rural India, providing low-cost broadband Internet access for wide regions. It targets the rural market around the world, where large populations live but paying capacities are low. VillageNet offers a low-cost, high performance alternative to traditional wireline and cellular technologies that have prohibitively expensive deployment costs. VillageNet connects villages in a mesh using long-distance wireless links. The cost of building the network is kept low by using off-the-shelf IEEE 802.11 equipment and optimizing the network topology to minimize cost.
Jaiswal spoke about the unique interference models for such point-to-point mesh networks, and then introduced challenges around channel allocation and scheduling of links in the network (which are independent of the underlying wireless technology – WiFi or WiMAX).
He also discussed network planning problems unique to such point-point mesh networks, and not surprisingly many of them were similar to the ones encountered in implementing the Mesh network at Mahavilachchiya.