Wi-Fi technology has come a long way since its introduction over 20 years ago and implemented multiple methods to boost its bandwidth and reduce latencies.
The official W-Fi Consortium keeps developing new standards, but Edgewater Wireless believes that its Dual Channel Wi-Fi technology can increase download speeds and reduce latency without moving to a particular brand-new standard.
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Dual channel Wi-Fi
Typically, Wi-Fi networks transfer data over bi-directional radio channels that are used both for uplinks and downlinks. Nowadays, the latest Wi-Fi standards multiple bi-directional radio channels, but to take advantage of them both the access point and the client must have the same number of antenna (i.e., 4x4 AP to a 4x4 device). Edgewater Wireless says that using bi-directional radio channels is not the most optimal way to transmit data back and forth.
Usually, uplink packets from client slowdown downlink packets because APs always have to process uplink packets from the client first and only then send downlink packets. Because there are packet errors and packet retries, the situation gets worse.
Edgewater Wireless proposes to use its Dual Channel Wi-Fi standard that relies on its Spectrum Slicing (MCSR) technology that can create one or more downlink-only 802.11 data channels in addition to a standard 802.11 bi-directional channel (that is used for upstream and small downstream packets). As the name implies, MCSR slices available spectrum into up to 11 downlink channels that are used exclusively for download-heavy applications like games or video streaming services.
Since the AP (its processor to be more precise) no longer has to policy and resolve upstream contention, it can manage uplink streams faster and reduce the number of packet errors and packet retries. Meanwhile, MCSR-enabled processors still have to perform rather complex workloads, including traffic routing to a particular channel by using packet inspection and filtering.
As a result, while MCSR-enabled devices cannot improve physical bandwidth offered by a particular Wi-Fi standard and implementation, they can reduce latencies as well as improve effective bandwidth, especially in environments where multiple Wi-Fi clients are used. According to CableLabs, a co-inventor of MCSR, the technology can improve airtime efficiency by up to 50%, whereas actual data transfer speeds can increase by up to whopping 12 times.
To take advantage of the Dual Channel Wi-Fi with MCSR technology, one needs to obtain an access point that supports it and use it with client devices that support two or more concurrent 802.11 channels.
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Anton Shilov is the News Editor at AnandTech, Inc. For more than four years, he has been writing for magazines and websites such as AnandTech, TechRadar, Tom's Guide, Kit Guru, EE Times, Tech & Learning, EE Times Asia, Design & Reuse.