Wireless Enters Vortex, Boosts Speed

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Engineers at NC State University say they have discovered a way of boosting the throughput of busy WiFi networks by up to 700%. Perhaps most importantly, reports ExtremeTech, the breakthrough is purely software-based, meaning it could be rolled out to existing WiFi networks relatively easily — instantly improving the throughput and latency of the network.

Problems occur at a busy conference center, when you are fighting tens or hundreds of people for access. When the network becomes congested, your bandwidth allocation rapidly dwindles and your latency quickly climbs.

To solve this problem, NC State University has devised a scheme called WiFox. In essence, WiFox is software that runs on a WiFi access point and keeps track of the congestion level. If WiFox detects a backlog of data due to congestion, it kicks in and enables high-priority mode, which allows it to clear its backlog of data. Then, with the backlog clear, the network returns to normal.

Arpit Gupta, a Ph.D. student in computer science at NC State says “WiFox can be incorporated without overhauling a system.” The paper, “WiFox: Scaling WiFi Performance for Large Audience Environments,” will be presented at the ACM CoNEXT 2012 conference being held in Nice, France, Dec. 10-13.

In another theoretical bandwidth breakthrough, Bo Thide of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics and a team in Italy have proven that it’s possible to simultaneously transmit multiple radio channels by using a corkscrew-like modulation.

Thide had theorized that orbital angular momentum could also be added to wireless signals, effectively creating a spiral signal that looks like a corkscrew or, in the words of Thide, a “radio vortex.”

To create these radio vortices, all you have to do is make a cut in a standard parabolic reflector and twist it slightly. If you imagine a corkscrew of radio signals being continuously transmitted from the outside edge of the antenna, that’s effectively what’s occurring.

Early research suggests it could result in a large increase in data capacity.

Thidé discovered in 2010 a new phenomenon in General Relativity which allows the detection of spinning black holes by analysing the orbital angular momentum and optical vortex structure of radiation from black holes. The results were published in Nature Physics.

In other news, LTE networks may be vulnerable to just one cheap, battery-operated transmitter, says Jeff Reed, director of the wireless research group at Virginia Tech. An LTE jammer could knock out a large LTE base station serving thousands of people. “Picture a jammer that fits in a small briefcase that takes out miles of LTE signals—whether commercial or public safety.”

“An example strategy would be to target specific control or synchronization signals, in order to increase the geographic range of the jammer and better avoid detection,” the Virginia Tech group said in a filing (PDF) submitted to the NTIA.

Neal Gompa in Extreme Tech is skeptical that LTE networks are very vulnerable to this attack.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, November 15th, 2012 at 10:05 am .

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