In mesh topology, all the devices on the network are connected with each other. For example, if a mesh topology has four computers A, B, C and D on the network then computer A has direct one to one connection with B, C and D. Similarly device B has one to one connection with A, C and D and so on.
A computer network that utilises mesh topology is called mesh network. To connect n devices in a mesh network, the number of links required would be n(n-1)2. These number of links are way higher compared to other types of computer network topologies.
The devices in the mesh topology also works as routers and relays the data sent by other devices on the network.
Characteristics of Mesh Topology
- Each device has connection with every other device available on the network. This setup creates lots of redundant links as, there are devices that do not communicate frequently or not communicate at all.
- A fault in one cable doesn’t affect the communication as the data can still be transmitted using other cable on the network.
- Not commonly used due to the high setup cost.
- A type of mesh topology known as partial mesh topology is used which reduces the redundant links and brings down the cost significantly, we will discuss more on this, in the types section.
How Mesh topology works?
It uses two ways to send the data:
- Routing the data: When data is send using this way, the data flows in a predefined path. The path is automatically created by the network while frequently assessing the broken links and creating alternate paths wherever necessary.
- Flooding the data: As the name suggests, in this approach, the data continuously flows through the network and the destination device grabs it when it identifies the address. This method is used by the simple mesh topology network where the data is not that sensitive.
Uses of Mesh Topology
It is used in those fields where reliability of the network is important such a
- Military communications: These communications are critical and matter of life and death so such transmission requires a robust network.
- Automated Traffic lights: Where traffic light accesses the traffic and gives signal based on the condition. This is also critical as a wrong signal can cause an accident.
- Emergency Services: Communications in emergency service such as ambulance service, fire department services etc often use this topology for their communication network.
Types of Mesh Topology
There are two types:
1. Full Mesh Topology
In this type, all devices have one to one direct connection with every other device on network. This type of topology requires n(n-1)/2 links to connect n devices. Setup cost is high as number of cable required are too much and not necessary. There are several devices on the network that do not communicate frequently, connecting these devices is redundant and increase the setup cost unnecessary.
2. Partial Mesh Topology
Partial Mesh topology solves the two major issues of full Mesh topology. It only connects the devices that communicate on regular basis and avoid linking the devices that rarely communicate with each other. This reduces the setup cost significantly by avoiding the redundant links.
Advantages of Mesh Topology
- Adding a device in mesh network is easy as it doesn’t affect the communication of other devices.
- Failure of a node or cable doesn’t affect the network, since no device in mesh network relies on other device for the transmission.
- This network can handle huge amount of traffic because of the number of cables available to support the communication. Devices can send and receive data simultaneously.
Disadvantages of Mesh Topology
- Setup is Complex: It is difficult to setup this network because each nodes requires connection with all the other nodes. As the number of nodes increases, the complexity to setup this network increases.
- Power consumption is high: Power consumption is high in this topology, since all nodes remains active whether they are communicating or not.
- Setup cost is high: Setup cost is high compared to other technologies such as star, tree, ring etc.
- Maintenance is not easy: Maintaining huge number of links is not easy. Maintenance cost is also high in this topology.
- Redundant cables: There are redundant cables in the network that are rarely used, however this problem is solved by partial mesh topology.