The bandwidth halving over multiple hops is fundamentally a physics/hardware problem. A single radio cannot send and receive at the same time, and no two radios can talk on the same channel at the same time. Two radios can, however, talk at the same time on non-overlapping channels--theoretically--begging the question, if every device had two radios, would we be cool?
Sadly, not so much...
A little bench testing with four routers yields the following (I believe these numbers are full-duplex, so x2 accordingly for what you would expect the numbers to be...)
- setup 1: Single-hop cabled , 24.3 Mbps
- setup 2: Multi-hop cabled, 24.2 Mbps
- setup 3: Single-hop wireless, (ch11) 11.4 Mbps
- setup 4: Multi-hop Radio-cable-radio (close quarters, directed, ch 1., 11) 5.82 Mbps
- setup 4b: Multi-hop Radio-cable-radio (close quarters, ch 1., 11) 5.81 Mbps
- setup 5: Multi-hop Radio-cable. (ch 11) 11.5 Mbps
- setup 6: multi-hop Radio-cable-radio (30', ch 1, 11) 10.8 Mbps
- setup 6b: multi-hop Radio-cable-radio (30', ch 1, 6) 15.4 Mbps
- setup 6c: multi-hop Radio-cable-radio (30', ch 1, 5) 12.2 Mbps
- setup 6d: multi-hop Radio-cable-radio (30', ch 13, 9) 11.2 Mbps
- setup 6e: multi-hop Radio-cable-radio (30', ch 1, 4) 6.54 Mbps
- setup 6f: multi-hop Radio-cable-radio (30', ch 1, 3) 5.39 Mbps
- setup 6g: multi-hop Radio-cable-radio (30', ch 1, 2) 6.98 Mbps
Background, for reference:
From the above, it is clear that a multi-radio 2.4GHz device is unlikely to have the desired effect of radio-radio hopping without bandwidth degradation unless the physical radios are fairly far apart. It is, however feasible to achieve bandwidth preserving multi-hop routing over the radio with two wireless devices separated over a wired LAN, suggesting that there might be a benefit to modifying the OLSR protocol and channel selection algorithms to take advantage of this situation when it arises in the wild.
As an aside, the above also suggests that in a crowded RF environment, spreading devices across all 13 wifi channels, using ch 1, 5, 9, and 13 is nearly as bandwidth-preserving than the traditional 1, 6, 11 configuration. Channels closer than four apart interfere with each other almost completely, even at a modest distance from each other.