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Within the short span of a decade, Wi-Fi hotspots have revolutionized Internet service provisioning. With the increasing popularity and rising demand for more public Wi-Fi hotspots, network service providers are facing a daunting task. Wi-Fi hotspots typically require extensive wired infrastructure to access the backhaul network, which is often expensive and time consuming to provide in such situations. wireless mesh networks (WMNs) offer an easy and economical alternative for providing broadband wireless Internet connectivity and could be called the web-in-the-sky. In place of an underlying wired backbone, a WMN forms a wireless backhaul network, thus obviating the need for extensive cabling. They are based on multihop communication paradigms that dynamically form a connected network. However, multihop wireless communication is severely plagued by many limitations such as low throughput and limited capacity. In this article we point out key challenges that are impeding the rapid progress of this upcoming technology. We systematically examine each layer of the network and discuss the feasibility of some state-of-the-art technologies/protocols for adequately addressing these challenges. We also provide broader and deeper insight to many other issues that are of paramount importance for the successful deployment and wider acceptance of WMNs.
Date of Publication: August 2007