connectivity matters
Kinetic Mesh June 30, 2020  |  Written by

What to Look for in a Mobile Wireless Network

Founded in 2001,  Rajant Corporation is the creator of the industry-leading Kinetic Mesh® wireless network. Our fully mobile, fully private data networks consist of wireless nodes we call “BreadCrumbs®” powered by our patented InstaMesh® networking protocol.

I’ve been involved in the development of our networks since day one, and our focus has always been to provide you with continuous, mobile, fast, and secure connectivity you can depend on. It’s our game-changing wireless mesh technology that makes this possible.

What’s so “game-changing” about our wireless mesh? You might think that all wireless and mesh networks deliver the same features and capabilities, but that’s really not the case. Our patented technology is truly unique among what’s out there. We “do mesh” differently and have been since the beginning.

There’s a lot we can say about what sets Kinetic Mesh technology apart from other mobile data technologies. But to keep this brief, I’ll focus on five critical things you should look for in a mobile wireless network.

1: Ease of Integration

Just about any network of substance will include both wired and wireless technologies. Adding devices to these networks or expanding or changing their coverage areas requires a solution that imposes as few constraints as possible on your applications and equipment.

Kinetic Mesh infrastructure is designed to integrate easily with whatever you might have by providing the simplest interfaces possible: Wi-Fi access points and bridged Ethernet ports. When we say “bridged Ethernet ports”, we mean that you can consider all of the Ethernet ports and Access Points on all BreadCrumbs in an entire mesh as simply ports on one big virtual Ethernet switch. No networking or routing changes are required on any equipment you connect. In other words, anything you can plug into a switch, be it a satellite uplink, a fiber connection, an LTE modem or router, an existing point-to-point or point-to-multipoint wireless connection, whatever… anything you can plug into a switch is compatible out-of-the-box with Kinetic Mesh products, and the integration generally consists of just plugging the thing in.

2: Mobility

Mobility is more than just walking around and accessing the Internet from a phone or laptop. Wi-Fi and cellular handle that easily enough. But critical applications, like unmanned ground or aerial vehicles, automated mining machinery, law enforcement or first responder systems, and rail safety systems all need RELIABLE mobility.

They can’t (or shouldn’t) tolerate interruptions during roaming handoffs. Normal wireless handoffs use a “break before make” technique — they break an old connection before forming a new one. Think of it as a trapeze artist letting go of a partner and flying through the air, trusting another partner to catch them.

InstaMesh, on the other hand, actually forms many connections simultaneously — and by many we mean potentially hundreds of peer connections for each node. This allows Rajant BreadCrumbs to remain connected to the network regardless of the status of any one connection, always using whichever connection is best for any particular packet. It’s more like a trapeze artist who lets go of one partner while keeping a firm grip on ten others. It may not be as exciting to watch, but critical applications are not where you want your excitement. You want reliable mobility.

3: Redundancy

Many wireless solutions depend on controller nodes to maintain a sort of “big picture” view of their network to help make decisions. This causes at least two problems. First, by the time the controller has a picture of the network, it’s out of date. And second, the controller itself is a potential point of failure, which can result in service interruptions.

A Kinetic Mesh, on the other hand, has no controller node at all. In fact, all nodes are equal in a Kinetic Mesh network — no node is in charge of any other, and no node needs to know about any connections other than its own connections to its immediate neighbors. Nodes can be added and removed at will without any disruption to the network and without negotiating with any controller node that might be offline. New nodes and connections become available immediately. Because there is no controller, there is no need to wait for anything to “coalesce.”

And not only is there node-level redundancy, but because each BreadCrumb can have up to four radio transceivers, there is also frequency-level redundancy and an incredible number of potential paths for your data to flow through the network.

Devices can lose power or sustain damage, radio channels can be swamped with interference, and cables can be cut, but the network will keep delivering your data.

4: Scalability

How big does your network need to be? Some simple consumer meshes can cover a house or apartment, but that’s it. Some commercially-oriented meshes can scale to dozens of units. Other commercial meshes might support more, but only if an administrator breaks the network into smaller logical groups, which takes planning and time not just for setup and channel assignment, but also every time you need to move static “infrastructure” devices. And some systems even require these smaller logical groups to be managed separately!

Kinetic Mesh networks scale way beyond all that. One of Rajant’s customers has been running a Kinetic Mesh for several years covering 89,000 acres (~36,000 Ha) with a mix of nearly 300 stationary, nomadic, and fully mobile nodes in a single mesh. Another customer with a 15,000-acre (~6,000 Ha) network is in the process of growing from about 400 nodes to about 650, also in a single mesh. And keep in mind, each node has multiple radio transceivers, so the number of actual radios providing mesh connectivity — and therefore data paths — is much higher even than that.

That’s a lot of devices, and even though they handle everything automatically, you still probably want to see what’s going on. So Rajant also provides management tools that scale along with the network: BC|Commander for configuring devices and monitoring them in real-time, and BC|Enterprise for monitoring the entire network continuously. Both of these are capable of providing you with both a big picture of the network and as much detail on any one device as you could want.

5: Security

Security is critical for any business network, and wireless networks present their own unique security challenges. Attackers of wireless networks don’t need physical access to any network hardware and, in fact, they can launch attacks from miles away. And it’s a lesson that too many people are still learning that you can’t just design a product or network and then add security to it later. You have to design security in from the beginning.

Rajant has invested significant resources to provide robust security in our products since day one. Each of our products provides multiple encryption and authentication options to ensure privacy, detect data tampering, prevent replays, authenticate packets at every hop through the network, and even encrypt MAC addresses to protect against traffic analysis. We also offer military products certified for transmission of US SECRET-level data.

Every network is different and might have different security needs. You might not need to worry about traffic analysis or replay attacks, for example. But it’s important to consider your security needs carefully and make sure your network can meet whatever those needs might be.

These factors — ease of integration, mobility, redundancy, scalability, and security — are just some of the areas where Rajant’s Kinetic Mesh shines. To learn more about Kinetic Mesh networks, go to rajant.com and check out our video titled, Rajant BreadCrumb Wireless Nodes, or… just give us a call. We’d love to see how we can help you succeed. 🖉

 

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