Researchers at North Carolina State University say they've worked out a way to boost the performance of public Wifi connections seven-fold.
Their new software program, called WiFox, can be incorporated into existing networks, and acts as a 'traffic cop' for data. The more people are using it, the better it works.
WiFi users and the access point they're connected to have to send data back and forth via a single channel, meaning traffic can get clogged up. It's no good giving a permanently high priority to the access point, as users would then have trouble submitting their data requests.
WiFox, though, monitors the amount of traffic on a Wifi channel and grants an access point priority to send its data whenever it detects that the access point is developing a backlog of data.
But the amount of priority the access point is given depends on the size of the backlog.
The team tested the program on a real Wifi system in their lab, which can handle up to 45 users. And, they found, the more users on the system, the more it improved data throughput performance.
Improvements ranged from 400 percent with approximately 25 users to 700 percent when there were around 45 users. On average, the Wifi systemresponded four times faster than without WiFox.
"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," says PhD student Arpit Gupta. "WiFox can be incorporated without overhauling a system."