Rice University researchers have developed full-duplex wireless technology that they say could double network traffic -- at a low cost, with little need for new hardware and without much disruption in service.
Full-duplex allows a cell phone or other mobile device to send and receive data on the same frequency. Today's networks require separate frequencies for each action.
One downside is that the national wireless carriers aren't ready to roll this out, and may not be for several years. Though full-duplex technology doesn't need new cell towers, it does require new industry standards.
The earliest it would be implemented is most likely with 5G, or fifth-generation, networks. Most major U.S. carriers are just starting to deploy 4G networks -- though Sprint's WiMax 4G network is more fully developed than competing offerings.
Still, Ahutosh Sabharwal, a Rice professor of electrical and computer engineering, remains optimistic.
Rice researchers have proven that phone makers can add full-duplex to existing smartphones. They were also able to repurpose existing MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antenna technology.
Further, Sabharwal's team showed that full-duplex systems can operate in asynchronous mode, meaning that one node can start receiving a signal while it's transmitting.
Rice has invited researchers from other organizations to add their full-duplex innovations to the mix.
This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.