Scalability of a Wireless Mesh Community Network in
Rural South Africa

Project Description

Zenzeleni wireless mesh community network is an ad-hoc network that provides voice services using off-the-shelf routers called Mesh Potatoes and analogue telephones in the Mankosi community of Eastern Cape, South Africa. The overall community project has taken the initiative to introduce low-end smartphones onto the network in infrastructure mode, add data services to the network, and upgrade the Mesh Potatoes. This will allow both voice and data access, consequently providing more services to more end users. Before deploying additional resources, it is imperative to identify the exact resources required, especially the maximum number of clients and simultaneous voice over internet protocol calls that can be supported by Zenzeleni mesh network while maintaining acceptable quality of service levels. Absence of such data might lead to financial risk and time depletion when setting up an optimal network. Bolstering the claim are investigations that report drop in performance levels of mesh networks as network density and hop count escalate. Preliminary investigations of efforts into quantification of scalability mostly yield capacity models to predict per-node throughput with increasing hop count. This research aims to devise a scalability law to answer the question that;

"Given the network limitations of Zenzeleni mesh network, what is the maximum number of client devices can each Mesh Potato support in a worst case scenario, while maintaining acceptable quality of service for voice and data services?"

Experimental implementations will start at simulation level in Network simulator-3 moving on to testbeds built using Wibed framewrok. The results from the different experiments will give us enough data to make concrete conclusions and move toward actual deployment in the field.

The Research Initiative