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In spite of the massive efforts in researching and developing mobile ad hoc networks in the last decade, this type of network has not yet witnessed mass market deployment. The low commercial penetration of products based on ad hoc networking technology could be explained by noting that the ongoing research is mainly focused on implementing military or specialized civilian applications. On the other hand, users are interested in general-purpose applications where high bandwidth and open access to the Internet are consolidated and cheap commodities. To turn mobile ad hoc networks into a commodity, we should move to more pragmatic "opportunistic ad hoc networking" in which multihop ad hoc networks are not isolated self-configured networks, but rather emerge as a flexible and low-cost extension of wired infrastructure networks coexisting with them. Indeed, a new class of networks is emerging from this view: mesh networks. This article provides an overview of mesh networking technology. In particular, starting from commercial case studies we describe the core building blocks and distinct features on which wireless mesh networks should be based. We provide a survey of the current state of the art in off-the-shelf and proprietary solutions to build wireless mesh networks. Finally, we address the challenges of designing a high-performance, scalable, and cost-effective wireless mesh network.