Faster WiFi from public hotspots could be in the pipeline, with researchers developing software that can make browsing in wireless-congested environments around four times faster. WiFox is the handiwork of a team at NC State University, and acts as a “traffic cop” to balance use of individual wireless channels so that multiple routers don’t build up a backlog of data. In fact, WiFox only gets better the more people are active, with up to 700-percent boosts observed.
In a normal wireless environment, such as a café or airport, multiple devices trying to use the same channel can lead to sluggishness. That’s often because the router gets hammered with user requests, and can’t fire out the data requested promptly; instead, a backlog is built up.
What WiFox does is balance the backlog by assigning channel priority to the router depending on how much data it has to send out. That way, there’s still opportunity for individual users to make requests, but the router won’t get overloaded in its responses.
“The amount of priority the access point is given depends on the size of the backlog – the longer the backlog, the higher the priority. In effect, the program acts like a traffic cop, keeping the data traffic moving smoothly in both directions” NC State University researchers
Interestingly, the efficiency of the system increased when the number of users ramped up. The team saw roughly 400-percent increased data throughput when 25 WiFi devices were active, climbing to 700-percent with 45 active.
Best of all is that, as a software enhancement rather than, say, a new radio system as with 802.11AC, existing routers could be upgraded to support WiFox. There’s no telling when or if that will actually happen, however; the team - Arpit Gupta, Jeongki Min, and Injong Rhee – will be presenting its research at the ACM CoNEXT 2012 conference next month.