Software Tweak Offers 400%-700% WiFi Improvement

Wifi Logo 250x110
Wifi Logo 250x110Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new software program, called WiFox, that's intended to be incorporated into existing WiFi networks and expedite data traffic in large audience WiFi environments, potentially improving data throughput by up to 700%.

"One of the nice things about this mechanism is that it can be packaged as a software update that can be incorporated into existing WiFi networks," said Arpit Gupta, a Ph.D. student in computer science at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work. "WiFox can be incorporated without overhauling a system."

WiFi traffic slows down in high-population environments because computer users and the WiFi access point they are connected to have to send data back and forth via a single channel. If numerous users are submitting data requests on that channel, it is more difficult for the access point to send them back the data they requested. Similarly, if the access point is permanently given a high priority - enabling it to override user requests in order to send out its data - users have trouble submitting their data requests. Either way, things slow down when there is a data traffic jam on the shared channel.

WiFox monitors the amount of traffic on a WiFi channel and grants an access point priority to send its data when it detects that the access point is developing a backlog of data. The level 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.

The research team tested the program on a real WiFi system in the lab, which can handle up to 45 users. They found that the more users on the system, the more the program improved throughput. Improvements ranged from 400% with approximately 25 users to 700% with around 45 users. This translates to the WiFi system being able to respond to user requests an average of four times faster than a WiFi network that does not use WiFox.
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