Choosing the Right Mesh Networking Technology for Your Application

I’m Rob Faludi, Chief Innovator
for Digi International. And today, I’m going to give an overview
of different mesh networking protocols and the strengths and weaknesses
of each based upon your application. So what is mesh networking? Mesh
networking allows you to extend the reach the Internet of Things device network by
allowing each device, or node, on your network to act as a router. Data can then
hop from node to node so that radios which are too far apart to hear each other
directly can still communicate. In a mesh network, routing is taken care
of by the protocol itself and networks can form and fix themselves automatically.
In a non-mesh, or point-to-point network, data can be passed between nodes that can
hear each other but never to devices that are out of direct range. So for example,
if this radio wants to communicate with one of its neighbors, that’s no problem.
But it has no way to communicate with devices that are too far away. Here’s a
quick summary of the difference between point-to-multipoint and mesh networking. In a point-to-multipoint network,
communications are generally faster and simpler. However, you’re limited
to the reach of individual radios. In a mesh network, there is no single
point of failure and every radio can communicate with every other radio
on the network, no matter how far away they are, as long as there’s
a valid route. So for example, this radio can talk to
this radio through this one up here, but if that one becomes disabled, the
network will automatically rebuild a route through another radio so that information
can still reach its destination. Mesh networking though does come
at a cost. There’s greater latency. In other words, a longer delay between
sending and receiving information in some cases and added complexity in putting
the network together. So, it should only be used when
you’re getting a benefit. You may notice that there are multiple
different types of mesh networks. We have three on the board here and I’m
going to go through them one by one. The first is Zigbee. ZigBee uses radios
that are in different defined roles. So, there are coordinators which set up
the network and then allow routers and end devices to join. Router radios which can
support maybe up to 20 or so end devices each and can route data along the network
between each other. Finally, end devices that do not route and
must join the network through a parent, but have the ability to sleep and pick up
messages that are being sent to them automatically when they wake up. In DigiMesh, all of the nodes in the
network can route data and in fact, the whole network can go to sleep and wake
up together. So, there are no parent-child relationships and additional routers can
be added to extend coverage extremely easily. Routing can be enabled or disabled
on individual nodes so the network can be set up to match your application
requirements. A Thread mesh network is built on open
standards and IPv6 internet addressing. It creates a secure and reliable mesh with
no single point of failure, with simple connectivity, and low-power
operation’s possible. It also comes with banking class encryption as an option. So, how do you choose? In simple terms,
you can choose ZigBee whenever many nodes on the network are going to be constantly
powered, anytime inter-operation between different manufacturers is a requirement,
when you need flexible security options, and also, if you want special routing
set up. For example, many-to-one routing when you have a large number
of end devices but they’re all routing to a central aggregator or
gateway node, typically to pass information to the internet. Choose DigiMesh when most of your devices
need to be battery-powered, you want really simple provisioning,
and routing on your network is extensively between peers. Choose Thread whenever you’re going to
have extensive interactions with the internet, anytime dynamic reconfiguration
and optimization is needed, anytime multiple routes to the internet
are desired. You can see that while all mesh networking technologies, and in fact,
point-to-multipoint, can be connected to the internet with a gateway, in the case
of Thread, you can have multiple gateways or, in Thread terms, “boarder routers,”
meaning there’s no single point of failure. Thread is a brand new protocol,
so keep in mind that you’re taking on the inherent risks of new technology. This has been a very brief overview
but there’s a lot more to know. To learn more, Digi International has a
wonderful library of documentation along with many experts that can help you select
the perfect network for your applications. Thanks.

12 thoughts on “Choosing the Right Mesh Networking Technology for Your Application

  1. Hi! We are using Digi International solution (XBee-PRO® 900HP) to implement DigiMesh topoloy, like presented in this video…. we would like to check if xbee configuration (via x-ctu) is ok….. could you provide a tipical x-ctu configuration for a router node?!?


  2. Why is it so damn hard to find GOOD help on Digimesh? I can't find a decent book, all I usually find are just using the serial monitor when what I want to do is use Arduino with Digimesh. Someone must know a good book???????

  3. Help! I need help setting up my network. I want to make sure i am getting the most out of my network and need help connecting these devices in the right order. Here is what i'm working with,
    -(ISP) Spectrum 400 mbps down/400 mbps up
    -Modem 4 ports with wifi (wifi can be turned on or off)
    -Router, Linksys EA9500 Max Stream
    -Router, Linksys Velop 3pk
    -Switch, TP Link 24 Gigabit Switch (TL-SG1024D)
    I have about 17 devices in my house that can be wired through ethernet and 5 that are wifi only.
    Thank You so much!!

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