Making a mesh router/gateway from a smartphone: Is that
a practical solution?
Antonio Iera, Antonella Molinaro, Stefano Yuri Paratore, Giuseppe Ruggeri
, Antonella Zurzolo
Università degli Studi Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, DIMET Dipartimento di Informatica, Matematica Elettronica e Trasporti, Italy
Available online 14 March 2011
Wireless mesh network
This paper aims at answering the question whether it is practical to build a mesh-phone or
not. A mesh-phone is a smartphone acting as a mesh router, i.e. either actively participating
in the process of packet forwarding towards a mesh gateway, or acting itself as a gateway
toward the Internet. Technical aspects of the mesh-phone implementation, such as design
constraints and implementation details, are addressed. The technical feasibility is validated
by describing the implementation of a prototype of the mesh-enabled phone over the
open platform. Besides technical feasibility also convenience of the addressed
solution is analyzed in terms of the consumed power, and some ‘‘energy-saving’’ related
enhancements are suggested to be applied to future user’s devices.
Ó 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
The wireless mesh network (WMN)  technology has
recently become very popular thanks to the easy deploy-
ment, self-conﬁguration, self-healing and self-organization
capabilities of its routers. In a WMN the end-user devices,
which are under the coverage of a wireless mesh router,
can connect to the Internet via the WMN infrastructure.
Mesh routers compose the wireless mesh backhaul and
organize themselves in order to route packets along mul-
ti-hop paths towards the closest router equipped with a
gateway functionality. Mesh gateways are typically wire-
line entry points to the backbone (and to the Internet)
and enable integration with other network technologies.
A typical mesh architecture is shown in Fig. 1.
The mesh paradigm may be applied to many wireless
network technologies; however, IEEE 802.11  is the
most widespread technology associated to the mesh net-
works. Mesh networks offer a means to interconnect IEEE
802.11 access points (APs) over a wireless distribution
system, thus achieving reduced infrastructure costs com-
pared to a wired backbone solution. Wi-Fi based mesh net-
works have been initially deployed within research
testbeds [3,4] and community-owned networks [5–7].
More recently, many cities around the world have de-
ployed mesh networks to provide public broadband Inter-
net access and also to assist public service and security
personnel. Today, there is a proliferation of commercial
solutions that use IEEE 802.11-based WMNs as a success-
ful, scalable, low cost technology to guarantee high-speed
A further contribution that fuelled the success of Wi-Fi
based WMNs is coming from the IEEE 802.11 protocol
itself, which has become the most common standard to
support wireless access to the Internet. Many modern
devices, such as laptops, smartphones, and game-consoles
are equipped with a 802.11 card. Furthermore, in 2004 the
IEEE has established a Task Groups (TGs) with the mission
to deﬁne the Extended Service Set (ESS) Mesh Networking
Standard. To date, the amendment IEEE 802.11s exists as a
standard draft and is expected to be completed by the end
of 2010 .
The massive diffusion of Wi-Fi enabled devices, jointly
with the large WMN deployments, changed the way one
looks at wireless access networks. In a modern approach,
1570-8705/$ - see front matter Ó 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 3335 419 191; fax: +39 0965 875 276.
E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (A. Iera), antonella.molinaro@
unirc.it (A. Molinaro), email@example.com (S.Y. Paratore), giuseppe.
firstname.lastname@example.org (G. Ruggeri), email@example.com (A. Zurzolo).
Ad Hoc Networks 9 (2011) 1414–1429
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