A wireless network has a server that includes a server controller that controls the receipt and transmission of packets via a server radio. The server controller selects a route to nodes in the wireless network, and provides communication between the wireless network and at least one other network. A plurality of nodes in the wireless network include a node controller that controls the receipt and transmission of packets via a node radio, and selects a route to the server. A route included in a transmitted packet is selected as a preferred route based upon lowest path cost. The lowest path cost is determined on the basis of ambient noise level information associated with links along a given path in the wireless utility network.