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Scientists Demo MegaMIMO 2.0 for 3 x Faster WiFi and Mobile Broadband

Thursday, Aug 25th, 2016 (8:17 am) - Score 1,608

Researchers working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a more efficient way of coordinating multiple wireless broadband routers at the same time by using their new MegaMIMO 2.0 technology, which could deliver three times faster WiFi speeds and double the range.

At present most WiFi routers come equipped with MIMO (Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output) or a variation of the same radio communications technology, which harnesses multiple antennas and signal paths at both the source and the receiving destination in order to deliver faster speeds. This also helps to combat interference, which improves reliability and performance.

Related MIMO routers transmit their signals simultaneously from different antennae and each signal must also be transmitted via a spatial stream within the given spectral channel, which helps to avoid collisions that would damage performance. Most routers adopt a Single User (SU) approach to MIMO.

The latest routers can also harness MU-MIMO (Multi-User) technology, which is capable of multitasking by sending data to multiple devices at once rather than one-at-a-time, which once again improves the overall network efficiency and throughput. However in recent years network congestion has become an increasing problem.

The proposed MegaMIMO 2.0 technology takes MU-MIMO a step further by coordinating multiple access points at the same time and also on the same frequency. Suffice to say, the ability to transfer data on the same chunk of spectrum and all without creating major interference is a huge development.

All of this is achieved via a new technique for coordinating multiple transmitters by synchronizing their phases. Special signal-processing algorithms then allow multiple independent transmitters to transmit data on the same piece of spectrum to multiple independent receivers, without interfering with each other.

A demo of the setup, which can be seen above, involved using four laptops that each roamed the mock conference room atop Roomba robots. Apparently the experiments found that the system could increase the devices data-transfer speed by 330% and roughly double the range of their signals.

Sachin Katti, Professor of Electrical Engineering, said:

“Since spectrum is scarce, the only way to improve wireless capacity is to add more access points and use some sort of distributed MIMO solution. While there has long been scepticism that this could ever work in practice, Katabi’s team has demonstrated that they can solve the many practical challenges of distributed MIMO networks.

Whereas current solutions often have slow, spotty performance, this technology has the potential to deliver high-capacity connectivity to each and every user.”

Modern 4G mobile networks also make use of MIMO style technology and the MIT team believes that MegaMIMO 2.0 could similarly be applied to cellular networks, which might play a part in the future 5G standard and would help to tackle congestion problems.

The team are now planning to further expand the soon-to-be-commercialised technology by developing it to coordinate dozens of routers at once, which would allow for even faster data-transfer speeds. Mind you all of this is likely to require a faster router CPU, which usually means more expensive and power hungry hardware for you and me.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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