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In this paper, we introduce a clean-slate architecture for improving the delivery of data packets in IEEE 802.11 wireless mesh networks. Opposed to the rigid TCP/IP layer architecture which exhibits serious deficiencies in such networks, we propose a unitary layer approach that combines both routing and transport functionalities in a single layer. The new mesh transmission layer (MTL) incorporates cross-interacting routing and transport modules for a reliable data delivery based on the loss probabilities of wireless links. Due to the significant drawbacks of standard TCP over IEEE 802.11, we particularly focus on the transport module, proposing a pure rate-based approach for transmitting data packets according to the current contention in the network. By considering the IEEE 802.11 spatial reuse constraint and employing a novel acknowledgment scheme, the new transport module improves both goodput and fairness in wireless mesh networks. In a comparative performance study, we show that MTL achieves up to 48% more goodput and up to 100% less packet drops than TCP/IP, while maintaining excellent fairness results.