NC State students use software to boost WiFi performance by as much as 700%

November 19, 2012

Students at North Carolina State University have come up with a clever way to increase the performance of WiFi networks by as much as 700%. How exactly did they do it? Say you’ve got one device, your laptop, connected to a WiFi network. The WiFi router feeding internet to your laptop has no problem handling all that traffic. But what happens when you’re at a conference and there are multiple people connected to the WiFi network, all trying to suck down as much data as possible? The WiFi router gets confused and doesn’t know who to prioritize, so it builds up a backlog of requests that takes time to process.

Here’s where the students’ work comes in. They invented something called “WiFox”, which is software that sits on the WiFi router that monitors how much traffic the network demands. When there’s a backlog of traffic, the router essentially tells all the devices on the network to shut up for a second while it pushes out all the requests it’s been given. Instead of the devices fighting over who gets packets first, the router is in charge and gives itself the highest priority on the network.

During testing, the students found a 400% improvement in speeds when 25 people were connected to the same WiFi network. Bump the number of users to 45, and that performance improvement hits 700%!

Again, we can’t emphasize how awesome this is because all manufacturers have to do is issue a software update that’ll enable “WiFox” support. When exactly will that happen? It depends. Bridging the gap between academia and the real world is often challenging, but we can imagine engineers at various networking firms have already reached out and asked to see just how reliable “WiFox” is and how easy it might be to implement.

Now we just want to know: Can similar methods be used on cellular networks?