The New WiFi is Here: A Tenfold Increase in WiFi Coverage At Little or No Cost


From the Now That’s Cool! Department,… Researchers and engineers uncovered a new and powerful means to boost Wifi bandwidth on an order of up to ten times. The best part: there’s no hardware involved – it’s simply a matter of fine tuning and enhancing the mathematics behind  dropped packets.

Packets is how data is transmitted on a typical wifi signal: and, as to be expected with present system configurations, packets are generally dropped as part of any normal transmission. This is why, when you’re travelling and trying to watch any porn videos on YouTube, participate in a webinar or try to watch a cool episode of “The Big Bang Theory” the picture(s) can come across glitchy and jumpy: it’s those pesky dropped packets clogging up the network processing.

Now, staff at NBC Universal, MIT, University of Porto in Portugal, Harvard, Caltech and the Technical University of Munich found a way around this problem: tighten up the math behind the transmissions and dramatically cut back on the clogging taking place around dropped packets. Best part: no need for the consumer to buy new hardware or equipment. The process is being offered through a new startup known as Code-On Technologies (http://www.code-on.org).

Simple, elegant – and very effective.

Brilliant.

This is big; very big. As reported:

The practical benefits of the technology, known as coded TCP, were seen on a recent test run on a New York-to-Boston Acela train, notorious for poor connectivity. Medard and students were able to watch blip-free YouTube videos while some other passengers struggled to get online. “They were asking us ‘How did you do that?’ and we said ‘We’re engineers!’ ” she jokes.

More rigorous lab studies have shown large benefits. Testing the system on Wi-Fi networks at MIT, where 2 percent of packets are typically lost, Medard’s group found that a normal bandwidth of one megabit per second was boosted to 16 megabits per second. In a circumstance where losses were 5 percent—common on a fast-moving train—the method boosted bandwidth from 0.5 megabits per second to 13.5 megabits per second. In a situation with zero losses, there was little if any benefit, but loss-free wireless scenarios are rare.

Medard’s work “is an important breakthrough that promises to significantly improve bandwidth and quality-of-experience for cellular data users experiencing poor signal coverage,” says Dipankar “Ray” Raychaudhuri, director or the Winlab at Rutgers University (see “Pervasive Wireless”). He expects the technology to be widely deployed within two to three years.

Given the importance wireless plays in business, home, education – just to name a few application arenas – we’re talking about something rather remarkable. In the next year or so this new development will seriously impact on business operations, consumer services as well as educational institutions. Now, users can enjoy truly reliable teleconferencing calls; businesses can save more money by encouraging telecommuting. Educational facilities can also enable greater and more reliable access to classroom settings and services while both private and governmental entities can better utilize wireless networks, as opposed to wired networks, saving money on both equipment and employee time spent on maintenance.

This development is also big for another reason: we’re reaching a critical point in our wireless spectrum. As the FCC noted, frequencies within the general wifi spectrum could run out in a couple of years. Meanwhile, Cisco Systems says that by 2016, mobile data traffic will grow 18-fold while Bell Labs goes farther, predicting growth by a factor of 25. Given the pervasiveness of consumer products and systems utilizing wifi more and more, none of this should come as any surprise; but coming up with the bandwidth necessary to continue service delivery is a major point of contention.  Code-On’s solution may now have very well developed a truly viable means to answer these challenges while paving the way to expand distributive computing by a tenfold factor – and without breaking the bank in the process.

Ah, witness the power of algebra.

For more on this, check out this link: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429722/a-bandwidth-breakthrough/

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