Mesh topology advantages, disadvantages, and features

A mesh network topology is a network layout where each device is connected. The connection can be wired or wireless. Each node on the network is capable of communicating with the other and they also act as a relay to pass messages to their destination. The most practical and common type of mesh is wireless since it doesn’t require a physical connection and it is cheaper.

A mesh network topology is characterized by having a direct link for each device and having a high redundancy. The 2 types of mesh topologies are full and partial. The main advantages of using mesh are it offers high fault tolerance and has different paths for the message to reach its destination. However, it is expensive to implement and requires more cables than other types of topologies. 

Different types of mesh topology.

Mesh network topology comes into 2 categories which are:

Full mesh topology architecture

This is where each node on the network has a direct link to all other devices on the network. This type of connection is impractical for a large network and expensive to implement. 


However, it has high resilience, and even if one link has a problem the message can be routed to another path and reach its destination. It is mostly implemented in situations where communication breakdown is not allowed like in security or military operations.

Partial mesh

This is the most practical and common type of mesh. In this connection, it ensures that at least each node is connected to 2 devices on the network. It is less resilient in case of one link going down but it is cheaper to implement.


How a mesh topology works

Each device is connected to others and it also acts as a relay point to route the message. In the full mesh topology when a device wants to send a message it checks which is the best and fastest path to send the message. It will use the direct link if available. If not available then it will check for the next best available path and forward the message to that path.

For a partial mesh, the device sending the message will check for the best path to its destination. Depending on the path available it will route the message using that path.

This ensures that in both cases no matter what the message will reach its destination using any of the available paths.

Features/ characteristics of mesh

  1. Each device on the network has a direct link to the other.
  2. High redundancy level. Since all devices are connected to each other the network has high fault tolerance.
  3. Each node act as a relay point. The network uses the nodes on the network to work like a network router to determine the best path to route the message to its destination.
  4. The message is almost guaranteed to reach its destination since multiple paths are available.

Advantages of mesh topology

  1. It has high redundancy which means data will always reach its destination using any of the available routes.
  2. Failure of one device on the network doesn’t affect the others. The message will still use other paths to reach its destination.
  3. It is easy to troubleshoot when a connection link between 2 devices is not working.
  4. A lot of data is transmitted on the network since each device can send directly to another node.

Disadvantages of mesh topology

  1. To implement the mesh topology is expensive to maintain all the devices linked together. It is also expensive to buy all the cables and ethernet ports for connection. 
  2. To keep all devices connected devices consume more power compared to other types of topology.
  3. A full mesh topology requires as many cables and ports to connect all the devices. This makes the network expensive to implement.
  4. There will be some connections that will be redundant and the network can do without them.
  5. Implementing a full wired mesh topology on an extensive network is impractical.

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