Researchers offer possible fix for slow public Wi-Fi

Slow Wi-Fi connections in public places such as airports and cafes could be a thing of the past, thanks to researchers at North Carolina State University who have developed a new protocol that could speed up connections by up to 700 percent.

Wi-Fi connection speeds can become sluggish when a large number of users use the same hotspot. This is because the Wi-Fi access points they are connected to have to send data back and forth via a single channel. As more users request data through the same channel, the slower the connection becomes. Airports, conferences and cafes are just some of the public Wi-Fi places where you might have experienced this before.

The researchers believe they have founda solution for this problem, which does not require new network hardware. The solution, called WiFox, is software that monitors the amount of traffic on a Wi-Fi channel, and as it gets busier, it starts prioritizing the data, so that the connection remains fast for all users accessing the hotspot.

The research team conducted tests in their lab, which can handle up to 45 users. They found that the more users connected to the access point, the data performance improved, ranging from 400 percent when 25 users were connected to 700 percent when 45 users were using it. They say that would equate to four times faster Wi-Fi in busy public access points.

It’s still unclear though when or whether WiFox will make it to clogged public Wi-Fi networks across the world. The research team, Arpit Gupta, Jeongki Min and Dr. Injong Rhee, are scheduled to present their paper in France in December.

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