Open-Mesh: I’m Happy.

In 2011 I purchased several MR500 wireless mesh units from Open-Mesh and documented the installation, configuration, and troubleshooting experience. At the time I had some significant issues – specifically units that wouldn’t communicate with each other (due to distance limitations inherent in 802.11n). As time progressed I experienced fairly regular speed interruptions and a variety of issues. Granted, I was using beta units, meant for testing and not production – and overall I didn’t feel that upset about the issues I encountered – and still liked Open-Mesh overall – just hoped that their implementation and support would improve.

Mesh topology

Mesh topology (Photo credit: Wikipedia

It has been nearly two years since I wrote that initial article and I’m happy to be able to update my report and say that I am now satisfied with Open-Mesh’s product and would recommend it to others.

A chain of unfortunate events resulted in this change in my attitude – namely a hot water baseboard pipe burst flooding portions of the church and destroying a significant amount of equipment. All of the AP units were taken down during the remediation process. I then reinstalled them following the remediation process and now have one MR500 in the “source” room (where our Verizon FiOS router is), one in a large room, and one in the church office. I found it was necessary to have the unit in-between in the large room as the Mr500 units were unable to communicate directly with sufficient quality to allow for VoIP communications.

Now I have two computers – a Dell desktop and a Toshiba laptop running wirelessly on the network. I also have a Cisco SPA504G phone (hard wired) which has crystal clear audio quality, and two Dell printers (a color laser and a MFP) that are hard wired into the office MR500. The MR500 units have been running for several days without any downtime or connectivity issues.

I posit that the change in performance may be due to two factors. First, the firmware has been updated on the MR500 units and some bugs may have been ironed out. Secondly, we knocked down a wall in the downstairs of the church which would make it easier for the middle MR500 unit to broadcast its signal both to the source MR500 and to the office MR500.

Interestingly enough, you can’t buy the MR500 units from Open-Mesh anymore and there is very little mention of them on the site. I was under the impression (perhaps wrong?) that the MR500 was the successor to the OM2P series, but it appears that the MR500 series has ceased and Open-Mesh has invested in further developing the OM2P series.

I purchased two of these OM2P units but have not installed them yet. They are tiny compared to the MR-500! They are nice units, though I wish Open-Mesh still had a MR-500-like unit, b/c they have four ports for hard wired LAN connectivity and one for WAN, whereas the OM2P has two total.

If I had all OM2P units instead of the MR500 units, I would have to have a switch in addition to the OM2P unit in the church office to connect the two printers and the phone into. It is nice to have everything in one small unit.

But, having to buy a switch isn’t a big deal for those who are purchasing OM2P units and, in general, OM2P units are used to provide wireless access, not wired access.

I’ve also needed tech support (in fact, I’m getting tech support for configuring the OM2P units as I write this) several times and have been happy with the response times and the quality of the answers. That said, none of the problems near the severity I was having initially (in 2011), so I am unsure whether the ability to handle more advanced problems has improved.

I do think Open-Mesh could improve their CloudTrax cloud-based network controller which manages the mesh network and each of the individual nodes. A little time ironing out the bugs in the interface and tightening up the UI‘s snazziness could go a long way. That said, I’ve used Meru’s network controller and it is a nightmare compared to CloudTrax.

I also think that from a business perspective Open-Mesh needs to work on their publicity and communication. I’ve been a customer for over two years now and don’t think I’ve ever received a communication from them. What is going on? They are obviously still in business and progressing forward, but communication with existing customers, potential customers, and the press could be improved. I’d love to know more about where Open-Mesh is heading, how sales are going, who the team behind Open-Mesh and the other standard corporate site information that Open-Mesh lacks.

At the end of the day, Open-Mesh offers for a tenth of the price devices which (in my experience) operate with similar effectiveness to Meru or Meraki’s much more expensive units. Getting yourself setup with a mesh network is fairly easy and the price is right. I wish Open-Mesh all the best luck and look forward to continuing to utilize their products in the future.

4 Responses

  1. Chris Romero says:

    I have noticed the following on the Cloudtrax log site and the OpenWRT dev portal a designation for the Open-Mesh “MR600” and “MR600v2”.

    https://dev.openwrt.org/ (Looks like the Atheros ar71xx line support.)

    Supposedly these units will be available in late April.

    So maybe we”ll see a return of four-port switch along with the router. But if history is an indicator then I expect the OM2P to have the best range and the MR600 to have 5G support.

    • davemackey says:

      Chris,
      I actually did a by-email interview with the folks at Open-Mesh and am working on an article which will contain some additional details on the upcoming MR units, etc. Keep your eyes open, I’m going to try and get it out today…but definitely within the week.
      Dave

  2. Mesher says:

    You should see the MR600 be available for sale by the end of 2013.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: