MIT Researchers Developed a Wi-Fi System That’s 3x Faster Than What We Have Now

August 24, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

MIT wi-fi
Photo credit: Screen capture from MITCSAIL video

And it doubles the range of signal.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have developed a new Wi-Fi system, dubbed MegaMIMO 2.0, that can transmit wireless data more than three times faster than the Wi-Fi system we use today. Further, it doubles the range of the signal.

We could all benefit from MegaMIMO 2.0 one day, as the researchers say it could be implemented in our home-based Wi-Fi routers if some of the bigger device manufacturers, like Cisco and Netgear, incorporated the system into their products.

However, there’s an even bigger advantage that could come from the new technology. It could serve to improve the internet connection in particularly crowded environments, like sporting events, concerts, or airports, where hundreds or thousands of people are trying to get Wi-Fi connection at the same time. Researchers call this problem a “spectrum crunch.”

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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," lead researcher Ezzeldin Hamed said in a press release. "The answer is to have all those access points work with each other simultaneously to efficiently use the available spectrum."

MegaMIMO 2.0 builds upon a technology called multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), which virtually all wireless devices use — it enables smartphones and other devices to receive multiple signals from multiple transmitters. However, when a large number of devices are trying to receive multiple signals at once, the “spectrum crunch” problem surfaces.

“The problem is that, just like how two radio stations can’t play music over the same frequency at the same time, multiple routers cannot transfer data on the same chunk of spectrum without creating major interference that muddies the signal,” says co-author Hariharan Rahul.

To solve the problem, the team developed a new technique for coordinating multiple transmitters by synchronizing their phrases. They created a special algorithm to minimize the interference between multiple receivers.

“This work offers a completely new way to deliver WiFi in campuses and enterprises,” says Sachin Katti, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University who was not involved in the research. “Whereas current solutions often have slow, spotty performance, this technology has the potential to deliver high-capacity connectivity to each and every user.” 

Rahul will present the team’s work at the conference for the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communications (SIGCOMM 16) next week.

Check out the team’s video below.


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