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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

Zune's WiFi Mesh

Monday, October 02, 2006

Engadget reports that Zune is WiFi challenged. It cannot connect to a WiFi hotspot or AP. The only thing it can do is to connect to other Zune devices nearby. That is only possibile if it supports Ad Hoc Mesh Networking. Ad Hoc Mesh Networking is supported inherently supported in WiFi. The cards can be configured to connect to a AP or to another card in a AdHoc mode. There is also a better version in the works known as the 802.11s standard. It enables the devices to be connected to each other through the AP's and creates a self configuring multi hop network.

The most popular topology of WiFi today is one to one connection between the clients and the Access Point. Due to this the AdHoc part of WiFi has gone relatively unnoticed although all commercial devices support it. It was put in with the intention that in the absence of an AP, which was likely in the early days, the devices can at least form a peer-to-peer mesh. If the reports about Zune are true, it would become the first major consumer electronics device to implement a pure WiFi mesh. But as the norm with Microsoft, I suspect that it would be a propreitary implementation.

Still a worthwhile experiment. Lets see if it takes off or not.

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posted by Rajiv, 11:26 PM


Apple's machines have always had excellent ad-hoc WiFi support. They're even capable of being access points to Windows machines. I use that feature often.

Of course, they don't qualify as consumer electronics. It'll be interesting to see how far Zune's battery carries it when WiFi is enabled.
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