Wireless LAN mesh networks (WMNs) are a cost effective way of deploying wireless LAN (WLAN) coverage over extended areas. As WMNs become more populated, scalability issues may arise due to the co-channel interference which is inherent in publicly available RF (radio frequency) channels. This co-channel interference can severely degrade network capacity and link reliability and may eventually make it impossible to operate with the frequency channels for which the network was originally designed. In this thesis, this problem is addressed by selectively installing supplementary free-space optical (FSO) links when RF link performance has deteriorated. The frequency assignment problem is solved using a heuristic technique based on a genetic algorithm. In order to determine the quality of the results, the proposed algorithm is compared with a lower bound solution obtained using an Integer Linear Programming (ILP) formulation.
Another advantage of FSO links is that they may reduce node power consumption compared with conventional RF links. This may be an important consideration in cases where power consumption at the nodes is important, such as in solar powered mesh networks. Power consumption estimates of RF and FSO links are obtained and compared for different data rates. This data is then used along with historical solar insolation data to estimate the solar panel and battery sizes required to guarantee a given node outage probability. The results show that no extra provisioning is required for replacing the deployed wireless nodes with new FSO links.