May 15, 2018 // 10:49 a.m.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced a shot in the arm for mesh networking in the home, office, and industry: EasyMesh, a new standard which promises to allow devices from multiple vendors to work together in perfect harmony.
Mesh networking is the latest buzzword for wireless connectivity, but it's a buzzword with solid technology behind it: Rather than having multiple client devices connecting to individual base stations which then need to be linked over a separate, typically wired, backbone, a mesh network allows devices to communicate through other devices to reach their destination. For industry, it allows for the deployment of vast sensor networks with a fraction of the infrastructure required using a traditional star-topography wireless network design; for the home, it means extending the coverage of your wireless network is as simple as adding more mesh routers.
At least, it's that simple in theory. In practice, Wi-Fi mesh networking is still in the early stages and interoperability is non-existent: Once you've bought your first mesh hardware from one manufacturer, you're typically locked into using that manufacturer for all future mesh devices - something the Wi-Fi Alliance is aiming to address.
'Wi-Fi EasyMesh offers both service providers and Wi-Fi users a consistent approach to multiple AP [access point] solutions,' claims Edgar Figueroa, president and chief executive officer of the Wi-Fi Alliance. 'Wi-Fi Alliance is delivering a standardised solution to a market-leading product category enabling a strong ecosystem for interoperable, Wi-Fi Certified devices.'
The idea behind Wi-Fi EasyMesh, the organisation explains, is much the same as with Wi-Fi itself: Certified products will be guaranteed to work with all other certified products, ending the need to be locked into a single vendor when it's time to expand your mesh. The technology has already won industry support, too, with Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm Atheros, and Quantenna among the company praising the standard and pledging to collaborate in its development.
Thus far, the Wi-Fi Alliance has not suggested when the first EasyMesh-certified devices will hit the market, but more information is available on the official website.