A mesh network is a local area network (LAN) that employs one of two connection arrangements, full mesh topology or partial mesh topology. In the full mesh topology, each node (workstation or other device) is connected directly to each of the others. In the partial mesh topology, some nodes are connected to all the others, but some of the nodes are connected only to those other nodes with which they exchange the most data.
The illustration shows a full mesh network with five nodes. Each node is shown as a sphere, and connections are shown as straight lines. The connections can be wired or wireless.
A mesh network is reliable and offers redundancy. If one node can no longer operate, all the rest can still communicate with each other, directly or through one or more intermediate nodes. Mesh networks work well when the nodes are located at scattered points that do not lie near a common line.
The chief drawback of the mesh topology is expense, because of the large number of cables and connections required. In some scenarios, a ring network or star network may prove more cost effective than a mesh network. If all the nodes lie near a common line, the bus network topology is often the best alternative in terms of cost.