It is obvious that range is important for connectivity. But what is remarkable is how non-linear that effect is. That is, the number of nodes you need in an area to create a connected mesh network grows super-linearly as you reduce the range. This means that short-range technologies like WiFi for mesh networks are going to struggle to get critical mass.
Here is an article that I wrote that gets deeper into this and compares the connectivity profile of WiFi-direct, LTE-direct and goTenna based meshing.
If you haven’t noticed it already — check out the interactive feature at the end of the link @RamR shared, the description is below:
This interactive tool helps you visualize the relationship between node density, range and connectivity. The dots below represent individual nodes in a 3×3 mile area. Whenever two nodes are within range of one another, a line forms to indicate a potential connection. Use the sliders to add or remove nodes from the network and adjust their range. Which one makes a healthier network?
Not sure I have a satisfactory answer, but Wifi range can be increased using directional antennas in deployments with larger and stationary platforms (for the antenna). Or perhaps the range would be sufficient to provide connectivity in much smaller areas of deployment than the 3x3 mile addressed in the paper, and then one can benefit from the higher throughput. Both are cases different from the focus of the paper.