September 8, 2020

    Wireless connectivity has become one with the Internet of Things (IoT). The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices, or “things,” generating 79.4 zettabytes of data in 2025. Mesh networking will be a key mechanism to enabling this large amount of data for IoT devices in homes, cities, and businesses. Tony Testa provides some insight into how this all meshes (pun intended 😊) in our world and how Qorvo plays an active part.


    Wi-Fi Tech & Trends Series Logo Question Bubble Icon

    Tony, what is a mesh network?

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    A mesh network is a topology architecture where the individual nodes are all connected. It may use a single internet access gateway that connects to the individual network nodes or the nodes are connected and communicate with each other on their own. Mesh networking easily extends wireless device range throughout an area such as offices, homes, and even outdoors.

    Each device in the network has two ways it can receive and transmit information. The entire network does not rely on one device to communicate, thus if a node is not able to communicate, the network continues to work via the other nodes. These individual network nodes and the connected devices like light bulbs, TVs, tablets, appliances, etc., communicate back-and-forth using several wireless standards.


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    How do the mesh network nodes work with IoT devices within a home?

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    Today’s mesh network devices are not limited by broadband signals. They communicate over several standards and are used to extend the range and coverage of Wi-Fi, cellular, Bluetooth® Low Energy, ZigBee, Thread and others. In a full mesh network, all devices are connected and communicate with each other. This provides full redundancy and maximizes network performance. Mesh networks extend signal range to an entire home effectively and are an affordable solution. This increases reliability and real-time communication with all devices. Moreover, some of these devices can store data – this stored data can provide network users cost savings, further increase network reliability, and enable smarter, data-driven applications.


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    What benefit does a mesh network bring to in-home IoT?

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    The mesh network offers a self-healing algorithm that automatically chooses the best route to send the data even if some nodes have inadvertently lost connection. The algorithms only allow connections that are available and working. Even when some devices are not working, the whole network still works. Mesh networking also allows devices to communicate with each other without going all the way back to the gateway. Mesh networking offers real-world advantages to IoT applications, as it is always accessible, always on and highly reliable.

    Some additional advantages are:

    • Individual radio signals from the hub do not need to be strong enough to reach the edge of the network. This means that, each node does not need to transmit a strong signal to reach the individual hubs, which is a big advantage for size- and power-constrained IoT applications.
    • Nodes in the network all communicate directly with each other without intervention from the gateway. This reduces latency and the burden on the gateway.
    • When objects obstruct the radio signal, the hub nodes' point-to-point connectivity can skirt barriers, so no individual node is isolated.

    Wi-Fi Tech & Trends

    Read other blogs in this series to get practical design advice from Wi-Fi expert Tony Testa.

    Connectivity Q&A: Enhancing the Smart Home with Mesh Wi-Fi Systems

    Connectivity Q & A: Reducing Wi-Fi Interference


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    Can you provide some insight into today’s use cases for mesh networks?

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    Mesh networks provide many benefits to a home, business, or city. For in-building automation, mesh networking can connect hundreds of nodes like sensors, actuators, and other gateways. These provide businesses with connectivity that is self-healing, so if one node fails, another is seamlessly found to take its place. Using a mesh network topology, building automation can be implemented without worry of future changes in layout. The mesh network with IoT also opens the opportunity of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is a large market on the cusp of exploding.


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    The latest technology advancement is ultra-wideband (UWB). Can you provide some details on how UWB fits into a home mesh network system?

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    Ultra-wideband or UWB was designed specifically for location systems. This technology has been around for some time but has recently become of high interest, mostly due to Apple integrating the technology in its iPhone 11.

    Apple’s UWB technology offers spatial awareness, provides the ability for the phone to recognize its surroundings and other iPhone 11 users in close proximity. This type of location awareness technology can help build a more efficient mesh network, as the network topology can be mapped instantly, and individual nodes can provide pinpoint spatial recognition.

    UWB technology provides centimeter positioning precision, essential for spatial recognition applications or other high accuracy applications. The blending of high-throughput Wi-Fi 6 mesh as a backhaul, in combination with the high accuracy UWB, enables a scalable network design.


    Tony’s Final Thoughts

    Wireless connectivity is migrating its way into every aspect of our lives. This is definitely the case regarding mesh networking and IoT. I provided a small snapshot of technology standards used inside a home mesh and IoT network. Qorvo provides the content for all those wireless technology standards like Wi-Fi, UWB, Thread, ZigBee, Bluetooth Low Energy, and others not mentioned – like cellular, cable and fiber. Our solutions are designed to provide high performance, reliable, fast data speeds, long signal range and small-sized end products that connect us all instantaneously and without interruption.

    The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Qorvo US, Inc. is under license. Other trademarks and trade names are those of their respective owners.


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    About the Author

    Tony Testa
    Director – Marketing, Wireless Connectivity Business Unit

    Tony Testa inspires wireless connectivity product innovations for Qorvo. With his 20 plus years of experience supporting industry alliance activities and customers, he helps engineers create state-of-the-art RF solutions that have a profound impact on our daily life.