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November 16, 2012

New Software Protocol WiFox Promises to Boost Wi-Fi Performance

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

Wi-Fi, which is based on the IEEE (News - Alert) 802.11 standard, enables mobile devices like personal computers, tablets, video-game consoles, digital audio players, smartphones and other gadgets to connect to the Internet via wireless network access points or APs. While Wi-Fi speed and range has improved overtime, it could be sluggish in areas where traffic is very high.  

To address some of these issues slowing Wi-Fi, a team of engineers at North Carolina  State University (NCSU) have developed a new software protocol called WiFox. According, Next Web, this new software protocol could theoretically be added to existing Internet routers to boost Wi-Fi performance by 700 percent.

Next Web reports that routers traditionally offer a single channel of data to users. Thus, when the AP receives an increased number of data requests, it becomes harder for it to promptly send back the data when there is a significant backlog. As a result, routers slow down in public areas when the traffic goes high during a certain peak period of the day.

NCSU engineers say that WiFox is software equivalent of a traffic policeman, ensuring that the data traffic moves smoothly in both directions. Consequently, WiFox works by monitoring the traffic on a Wi-Fi channel, intelligently detecting load issues and granting access to priority data when it detects a backlog of information passing backwards and forwards.

The research team claims that when the software was tested on a router capable of handing 45 users in the University lab, it saw improvements of between 400 and 700 percent even when the router was being used by the maximum number of users. Next Web reporter Matt Brian wrote, “On average, the router was able to respond to data requests four times faster than a router that didn’t utilize the protocol.”

The conclusion drawn was that software based WiFox has the potential to change the way heavily-trafficked routers operate around the world. The NCSU team is planning to present its research work next month at the ACM CoNEXT 2012 conference in Nice, France.

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