HOW DOES A MESH NETWORK WORK?
A mesh network is a type of network that each access point or node has to provide coverage for its area and also serve as a relay for other access points on the network. So effectively every deployed access point in a mesh network has to work together to provide connectivity between each other and provide coverage throughout the network.
The system will then work out which path is the best path the data to travel through, to get the destination. With a correctly designed mesh network (where physically possible) if one of the nodes failed, the system will "self heal" so finding an alternative path for the data to travel through to get to the destination.
Within a mesh networks some of the access points will be a root access point running in root AP mode. These are the access points that have a physical wired connections back to the network.
Typically you would use dual band access points so access points that have 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz radio in them. The system will then use the 5Ghz radio's to connect to other nodes and act like the backbone network of the mesh network. The 2.4Ghz radio are then used to provide coverage to the users in the 2.4Ghz frequency. Some systems out their will also offer coverage in the 5Ghz frequency as well connectivity between the nodes.
We use a manufacturer called Ruckus for our wireless mesh networks. They have called their meshing "Ruckus Smart Meshing". We have had great results and have come to trust Ruckus meshing with the right design.
Every hop you do in a mesh network you half your throughput as the radios are half duplex. Best practises are too never do more than 3 hops before you reach a root access point (an access point with physical connectivity to the network)
One of the main uses for wireless meshing that we have come across, is deploying wireless into city centres of coverage outside of offices etc. where cabling can't be deployed to every access point location.
Another big use might be in a school for example where the customer doesn't want cabling deployed to a couple of the access point positions in a gym for example. Here you could setup and mesh network to prevent the access point from having to have a physical cat5 cable to it, you still need to power it though of course.