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IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN technology is mainly used as an access network within corporate enterprises. All the WLAN access points are eventually connected to a wired backbone to reach the Internet or enterprise computing resources. We aim to expand WLAN into an enterprise-scale backbone network technology by developing a multichannel wireless mesh network architecture called Hyacinth. Hyacinth equips each node with multiple IEEE 802.11a/b NICs and supports distributed channel assignment/routing to increase the overall network throughput. We present the results of a detailed performance evaluation study on the multichannel mesh networking aspect of Hyacinth, based on both NS-2 simulations and empirical measurements collected from a 9-node Hyacinth prototype testbed. A key result of this study is that equipping each node of a Hyacinth network with just 3 NICs can increase the total network bandwidth by a factor of 6 to 7, as compared with single-channel wireless mesh network architecture.