Getting good WiFi at a sporting event isn’t easy.
But researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory think they’ve solved this problem. In crowded areas — be it a concert, airport, conference hall or sports stadium — a bunch of wireless routers need to be installed to deliver Internet access to everyone. Having so many routers can create interference, leaving a frustrated crowd with painfully slow Internet access.
In a new paper published online, the MIT team described a method for managing networks that causes the routers to collaborate better. The researchers developed algorithms that process a router’s signal so that multiple routers can send information on the same wireless spectrum without causing interference. In their tests, the MIT researchers found data transfer speeds that were 3.3 times as fast as usual.
Ezzeldin Hussein Hamed, one of the MIT researchers, said that the data could be transferred 10 times as fast if his team had tested with additional routers.
“This can enable some things that never could’ve been done before,” Hamed said.
The system hasn’t been tested yet in a stadium or other large venue. Hamed’s team demonstrated their advances in a lab, using laptops that roamed on Roomba robots. (The laptops were on Roombas in order to move around like people do in large gatherings.)
So sports fans and concertgoers will have to be patient. Hamed said it was too early to estimate when the average American would experience these gains. The MIT team has created a startup, MegaMIMO, and is talking with companies about how to commercialize their technology.