MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2015 Activities by Sponsor - Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Wireless Mesh Networks Reimagined

Brough Turner, Course 6 Alum, Founder/CTO, netBlazr, Inc.

Add to Calendar Jan/13 Tue 11:00AM-12:30PM 32G-449 (Patel Room)

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

MIT was instrumental in launching wireless mesh networking about 15 years ago.  Today the technology is widely used in sensor networks and other distributed and/or low data rate applications, but capacity bottlenecks have limited its use for high-speed wireless Internet access.  All that is about to change.

We’ll discuss how higher frequencies and directional antennas are enabling high capacity wireless networks in urban areas using 5 GHz and 24 GHz unlicensed spectrum and, with this, a new generation of urban, wireless ISPs (including in Boston). But directional antennas require careful aiming – flexibility is gone. The solution: electronic aiming.

We’ll describe an NSF-funded program to design an innovative wireless mesh network node, installable by anyone, that enables low cost, high capacity Internet access.  This consumer device looks like a clear sheet of plastic to hang in a window, but sends and receives highly directional radio beams, steered in software, using a large antenna with electronic beam steering to automatically establish high capacity point-to-point links between buildings. Made with transparent conductive materials, it mounts indoors in a window (avoiding weather, roof access and landlord permissions), requires no aiming, and can automatically re-establish the mesh if a node is removed. 

This dramatically expands the applicability of wireless mesh networks, reducing the cost of community networks and enabling new wireless Internet services.  


Sponsor(s): Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab
Contact: Brough Turner,