DMesh: Incorporating Practical Directional Antennas in Multichannel Wireless Mesh Networks

Saumitra M. Das, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University
Himabindu Pucha, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University
Dimitrios Koutsonikolas, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue Univesity
Y. Charlie Hu, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University
Dimitrios Peroulis, Birck Nanotechnology Center and School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University

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Abstract—Wireless mesh networks (WMNs) have been proposed as an effective solution for ubiquitous last-mile broadband access. Three key factors that affect the usability of WMNs are high throughput, cost-effectiveness, and ease of deployability. In this paper, we propose DMesh, a WMN architecture that combines spatial separation from directional antennas with frequency separation from orthogonal channels to improve the throughput of WMNs. DMesh achieves this improvement without inhibiting cost-effectiveness and ease of deployability by utilizing practical directional antennas that are widely and cheaply available (e.g., patch and yagi) in contrast to costly and bulky smart beamforming directional antennas. Thus, the key challenge in DMesh is to exploit spatial separation from such practical directional antennas despite their lack of electronic steerability and interference nulling, as well as the presence of significant sidelobes and backlobes. In this paper, we study how such practical directional antennas can improve the throughput of a WMN. Central to our architecture is a distributed, directional channel assignment algorithm for mesh routers that effectively exploits the spatial and frequency separation opportunities in a DMesh network. Simulation results show that DMesh improves the throughput of WMNsby up to 231% and reduces packet delay drastically compared to a multiradio multichannel omni antenna network. A DMesh implementation in our 16-node 802.11bWMNtestbed using commercially available practical directional antennas provides transmission control protocol throughput gains ranging from 31% to 57%.