Researchers boost wireless networks' performance

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Washington, March 13 : ETH Zurich researchers have achieved a major success in quadrupling the existing transmission rate of conventional wireless networks from 54 megabytes per second (Mbps) to 216 Mbps by using multiple antenna technology.

The researchers say that the latest development springs from a research project called MASCOT (Multiple-Access Space-Time Coding Testbed), funded by the European Union.

The communication theory says that only a limited amount of data can be transmitted within a given bandwidth for wireless communication.

Since the revelation of the limits about six decades ago, researchers have been endeavouring to reach the boundaries determined by physics as efficiently as possible.

Now, ETH Zurich researchers have come up with the proposition that with Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology, it is possible for several transceivers to communicate with each other on the same bandwidth at the same time. Transceivers have several antennas, they say.

"It is as if several people are communicating with several other people. At face value, it just seems like an incomprehensible babble. If the listeners skillfully combine the hubbub, however, they can filter out the original messages," says Helmut Bolcskei, professor at the Communications Technology Laboratory at ETH Zurich.

The Zurich-based researchers claim that they are the first to demonstrate that the principle of multiple antenna systems is actually feasible for use in complex wireless networks.

During the research, the group constructed a compact multi-user system, currently with three stations in a bench scale, where every station transmits or receives via four antennae.

The researchers say that the utilization of the frequency range for each of the three users could be up to four times higher than with present-day WLAN networks.

They say that a deeper understanding of the theoretical principles of multi-antenna systems enabled them to develop efficient decoding algorithms that require a very small chip area.

The researchers say that the receivers developed by them are currently so efficient that the new MIMO technology can easily be installed in commercially available laptops and WLAN stations.

However, it may take some time before MIMO technology is used in cellular phones because their antennas, which require a certain distance for reliable data transfer, have to be improved first.


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