MIT’s MegaMIMO 2.0 provides 3x faster Wi-Fi and longer range to users

A team of researchers from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has created MegaMIMO, a novel Wi-Fi technology that is the double the range of old Wi-Fi tech and three times faster.

We’ve all experienced the frustration of trying to load a web page on our phone at a busy conference with an overloaded network. MegaMIMO 2.0, (MIMO standing for Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output) fixes the big problem at the heart of Wi-Fi spectrum: congestion.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have addressed the congestion issues with MegaMIMO 2.0, which can transfer data over Wi-Fi more than three times faster than current options, with double the range.

Researchers explained the findings in a paper released this week. The key to the MegaMIMO 2.0 system is coordinating multiple access points at the same time, on the same frequency, without creating interference. The new system allows users to bounce from one router to another without interruption, expanding network capacity for enterprises, sports stadiums, and conference centers.

“In today’s wireless world, you can’t solve spectrum crunch by throwing more transmitters at the problem, because they will all still be interfering with one another,” Ezzeldin Hamed, PhD student and lead author of the paper, told MIT News. “The answer is to have all those access points work with each other simultaneously to efficiently use the available spectrum.”

According to the MIT News report, “MegaMIMO 2.0’s hardware is the size of a standard router, and consists of a processor, a real-time baseband processing system, and a transceiver board.” The software is a signal-processing algorithm that allows multiple independent access points to transmit data on the same piece of spectrum to multiple, independent mobile devices, without interfering with each other, the report stated.

The researchers tested MegaMIMO’s performance by building a fake conference room, and strapping four laptops to Roomba robots to wander around the space. They found that the system could increase the devices’ data-transfer speed by 330%.

The advent of MegaMIMO 2.0 is especially important given the rise of the Internet of Things, as well as AR and VR, MIT’s Sharony said. More connected devices means a need for more bandwidth, which distributed MIMO could provide.

“This will increase the total capacity of the network,” he added. “The user would not even know about it. The magic happens in the software and hardware, coordinating multiple routers and devices.”

This is an early iteration of the MegaMIMO 2.0 system. According to MIT News, in the future the team is hoping to “coordinate dozens of routers at once,” providing even more speed.

MIT’s work will likely lead to further improvements in hardware and software to coordinate routers together, Sharony said. “It will be a good push for the industry in increasing the capacity even further, especially in the enterprise, where you have many devices sharing the whole spectrum,” he added.

MIT hopes to bring MegaMIMO 2.0 to markets in couple of years.

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