Overview of Smart Mesh Networking

A Smart Mesh network is a peer-to-peer, multi-hop wireless network wherein participant nodes cooperate to route packets. In a Ruckus wireless mesh network, the routing nodes (that is, the Ruckus Wireless APs forming the network), or "mesh nodes," form the network's backbone. Clients (for example, laptops and other mobile devices) connect to the mesh nodes and use the backbone to communicate with one another, and, if permitted, with nodes on the Internet. The mesh network enables clients to reach other systems by creating a path that 'hops' between nodes.

Smart Mesh networking offers many advantages: In the Ruckus Wireless Smart Mesh network, all traffic going through the mesh links is encrypted. A passphrase is shared between mesh nodes to securely pass traffic. When deployed as a mesh network, Unleashed member APs communicate with the Unleashed Master AP either through a wired Ethernet connection (Root APs) or through the wireless connection using the 5 GHz radio (Mesh APs).

Smart Mesh Networking Terms

Before you begin deploying your Smart Mesh network, Ruckus Wireless recommends getting familiar with the following terms that are used in this document to describe wireless mesh networks.

Table 1. Mesh networking terms
Term Definition
Mesh Node A Ruckus Wireless Unleashed AP with mesh capability enabled.
Root AP (RAP) A mesh node that communicates with the Unleashed Master AP through its Ethernet (wired) interface. The Unleashed Master AP itself can also be a Root AP.
Mesh AP (MAP) A mesh node that communicates with the Unleashed Master AP through its wireless interface via a Root AP.
Ethernet-Linked Mesh AP (eMAP) An eMAP is a mesh node that is connected to its uplink AP through a wired Ethernet cable, rather than wirelessly. eMAP nodes are used to bridge wireless LAN segments together.
Mesh Tree Each Mesh AP can have exactly one uplink to a Root AP or another Mesh AP, and each Root AP or Mesh AP can have multiple Mesh APs connected to it, resulting in a tree-like topology. A single Unleashed Master AP can manage more than one mesh tree. There is no limit on the number of mesh trees per Unleashed Master. For example, an Unleashed network can consist of 1 mesh tree of 6 APs, 2 mesh trees of 3 APs each, or 3 mesh trees of 2 APs each.
Hop The number of wireless mesh links a data packet takes from one Mesh AP to the Root AP. For example, if the Root AP is the uplink of Mesh AP 1, then Mesh AP 1 is one hop away from the Root AP. In the same scenario, if Mesh AP 1 is the uplink of Mesh AP 2, then Mesh AP 2 is two hops away from the Root AP. A maximum of 8 hops is supported.
See Supported Mesh Topologies for more information.