Optical/IP Networks

Does Microsoft Have Mesh Ambitions?

The latest edition of Unstrung Insider finds that software giant Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) may have designs on wireless LAN mesh technology.

Unstrung Insider chief analyst Gabriel Brown points out in the Wireless Mesh: New Wave Broadband report that Microsoft already has some mesh software available for download called the Mesh Connectivity Layer (MCL) driver. The MCL driver sits between Layer 2 (the link layer) and Layer 3 (the network layer).

But it's what the firm could develop that interests Brown. He notes that Microsoft is researching mesh applications: "The public face of Microsoft and wireless mesh is the Microsoft Networking Research Group, which maintains a mesh networking Web page and has published several relevant research papers." In June 2004, the Group organized the Mesh Networking Summit 2004 to brainstorm various aspects of mesh networking.

Microsoft has examined different methods of wireless mesh networking, Brown finds, including "how multi-radio mesh nodes allow higher throughput than single radio nodes...

"It’s unclear why Microsoft is pursuing this research," he writes. "We suspect the primary interest is in consumer-scale meshes, and potentially, mesh-enabled client applications. The company’s publicly available research has a heavy focus on using wireless mesh to cross the “digital divide” and provide broadband to homes that can’t get DSL or cable modems."

Microsoft declined requests to be interviewed for the report.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

The report, Wireless Mesh: New Wave Broadband, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Unstrung Insider, priced at $1,350. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.unstrung.com/insider.

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