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We describe grant-to-send, a novel collision avoidance algorithm for wireless mesh networks. Rather than announce packets it intends to send, a node using grant-to-send announces packets it expects to hear others send. We present evidence that inverting collision avoidance in this way greatly improves wireless mesh performance. Evaluating four protocols from 802.11 meshes and 802.15.4 sensor networks, we find that grant-to-send matches or outperforms CSMA and RTS/CTS in all cases. For example, in a 4-hop UDP flow, grant to-send can achieve 96% of the theoretical maximum throughput while maintaining a 99.9% packet delivery ratio. Grant-to-send is also general enough to replace protocol-specific collision avoidance mechanisms common to sensor network protocols. Grant-to-send is simple. For example, incorporating it into 802.11 requires only 11 lines of driver code and no hardware changes. Furthermore, as it reuses existing 802.11 mechanisms, grant-to-send inter-operates with current networks and can be incrementally deployed.