Researchers claim performance fix for overused Wi-Fi points

The protocol, called WiFox, can be incorporated into existing routers

Three researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a software protocol that better manages high traffic loads on a Wi-Fi router when too many users connect, the university said on Tuesday.

The IEEE's 802.11 specification allows clients connected to a Wi-Fi access point to share the same transmission channel, but downlink traffic eventually surpasses uplink traffic, causing packet loss and the access point to be saturated, the researchers wrote in an abstract.

"Various factors result in performance degradation of Wi-Fi for large audiences, and from our analysis of network traces, we observed traffic asymmetry being the major culprit," the researchers wrote.

The researchers' protocol, called WiFox, monitors the traffic and implements a "priority" mode when a router is in danger of being overloaded of traffic, according to the university. WiFox can be incorporated into routers as a software update.

WiFox was tested with between 25 and 45 clients connected to an access point. The router was able to respond an average of four times faster than a network not using the protocol.

Interestingly, throughput increased with more users on the network. The researchers found throughput increased by 700 percent with 45 users, and by 400 percent with 25 users.

The paper, "WiFox: Scaling WiFi Performance for Large Audience Environments," was written by doctoral students Jeongki Min and Arpit Gupta, and Injong Rhee, a professor of computer science, at the university.

A one-page summary of their research has been released, and they will present the paper next month at the ACM CoNEXT 2012 conference in Nice, France scheduled from Dec. 10-13.

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