Packet-relay Radio – Future of wireless networks?

David Isenberg’s latest Smart Letter .. is interesting commentary on a number of issues, including a mini-essay on packet-relay networks, which potentially offer scalability to wi-fi:

Wireless packet-relay networks solve the problem of multiple, powerful, overlapping transmitters. A network of weak transmitters (with routers attached) can send a packet a long way without unnecessarily trampling on the spectral commons. Multiple hops replace additional amplification.

Packet-relay radio networks have some other nice properties, too. They solve the line-of-sight problem that restricts single-hop 802.11b transmissions. Multiple hops can get around a large building or over a hill. In addition, packet relay does not have the problems of large, capital-intensive buildouts, because customers own most of the infrastructure. When you want to connect to a packet-relay network, you go down to Radios-R-Us, bring home a unit, and plug it in. When you connect, you beef up the network infrastructure

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