Researchers boost wi-fi speeds by 700 percent

Researchers at NC State University (NCSU) have emerged from their smoke filled labs having worked out how to use software to boost wi-fi speeds by 700 percent.

Because the cunning plan uses software, it means that it could be rolled out to existing wi-fi networks easily and instantly improving the throughput and latency of the network.

A wi-fi access point, along with every device connected to it, operates on the same wireless channel. This channel is a single-lane road which occasionally gets clogged with the odd driver who thinks it is important to tow a caravan long distances so that he can sit by the roadside, watch television and drink tea.

Each channel, depending on the wireless technology being used, has a maximum bandwidth and the bandwidth is distributed between all connected devices.

That works well at home where you don’t have competition for the bandwidth, but on public wi-fi means you are fighting tens or hundreds of people for space.

According to ExtremeTech, NC State University created something called WiFox which runs on a wi-fi access point and keeps track of the congestion level. If WiFox detects a backlog of data due to congestion, it enables high-priority mode. This gives it complete control of the wireless network channel and can run things so that the caravan driver does not cause too much trouble.

The WiFox protocol will be presented at the ACM CoNEXT conference in December. We are not sure if it can handle the erratic nature of data which has a flat cap and a shooting stick on the back windscreen.

NCSU researchers report that their testbed was made up of a single wi-fi access point with 45 connected devices, and had a 700 percent increase in throughput. In a 802.11n network, that would mean a jump from 1Mbps to around 7Mbps. Furthermore, latency is also decreased by 30-40 percent.