The latest development from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) is a breakthrough we can all get excited about. A new wireless technology promises to more than triple Wi-Fi data speeds, and also double its reach. MegaMIMO 2.0 uses multiple transmitters and receivers working simultaneously, so many signals can be sent at the same time. During laptop tests, the system was able to boost data transfer speed by as much as 330 percent, and the new technology could solve the problem of “spectrum crunch” once and for all.
A team led by professor Dina Katabi developed the technology, which addresses network congestion by taking a cue from smartphones and mimicking their multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology. MIT’s Wi-Fi technology puts several routers to work at once and, in concert, they transmit data over the same piece of spectrum, alleviating many problems associated with limited bandwidth. As more people and businesses are leaning on wireless devices, network infrastructure can’t be expanded quickly enough to meet the growing demand. MIT’s MegaMIMO 2.0, which is the same size as a standard Wi-Fi router, maximizes network traffic in a new way.
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“In today’s wireless world, you can’t solve spectrum crunch by throwing more transmitters at the problem, because they will all still be interfering with one another,” Ezzeldin Hamed, lead author on the study, told MIT News. “The answer is to have all those access points work with each other simultaneously to efficiently use the available spectrum.”
Although faster Wi-Fi service is an item on just about everyone’s wish list, the system’s inventors suggest it could best be put into play on the wireless networks for high-usage events like concerts, conventions, and sporting events. It could, however, eventually be applied to cell networks as well, especially after the team moves forward with the project and expands MegaMIMO 2.0 to work with dozens of routers at once.
Lead image via Christiaan Coler/Flickr