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An End to Slow Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi can often be frustratingly slow. Cafes, waiting rooms, libraries and even public transport have been boasting free Wi-Fi for years, but is it ever actually usable? Rarely.

The slow connections experienced on public Wi-Fi networks are due to the volume of data being transferred through a single channel. When many users are sending requests through this one channel it can become over worked and clog easily. The channel does try to prioritise the data but this leads to a slow service on new requests sent my new users. Often resulting in either painfully slow downloads or no downloads at all.

Researchers at the North Carolina State University have developed a program that could provide a public Wi-Fi connection that is 700% faster than speeds currently being experienced.
The programme, named WiFox can be added to existing networks and responds to requests by users four times faster than standard Wi-Fi connections. It works by monitoring the speed passing though the single channel and Wi-Fi connection. When a clog in the flow is detected, the program prioritises the traffic. In turn this slows down the traffic back and forth resulting in a smooth the connection.

The speed users experienced, much like the current Wi-Fi situation, depended on the number of users. It ranged from a 400% increase in speed up to a 700% increase with 45 users.

The research is being supported by the National Science Foundation and the findings will be presented at an international conference next month.


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