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Wireless backhaul communication is expected to play a significant role in providing the necessary backhaul resources for future high-rate wireless networks. Mesh networking, in which information is routed from source to destination over multiple wireless links, has potential advantages over traditional single-hop networking, especially for backhaul communication. We develop a linear programming framework for determining optimum routing and scheduling of flows that maximizes throughput in a wireless mesh network and accounts for the effect of interference and variable-rate transmission. We then apply this framework to examine the throughput and range capabilities for providing wireless backhaul to a hexagonal grid of base stations, for both single-hop and multihop transmissions for various network scenarios. We then discuss the application of mesh networking for load balancing of wired backhaul traffic under unequal access traffic conditions. Numerical results show a significant benefit for mesh networking under unbalanced loading.