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A Bandwidth Breakthrough

Technology Review (10/23/12) David Talbot

Academic researchers have developed coded Transmission Control Protocol, a method for improving wireless bandwidth by one order of magnitude that involves using algebra to overcome the network-clogging task of resending dropped packets.  The technology provides new ways for mobile devices to solve for missing data, and can combine data streams from Wi-Fi and LTE.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers tested the system on standard Wi-Fi networks, where 2 percent of packets are normally lost, and found that a normal bandwidth of 1 Mbps was boosted to 16 Mbps.  The researchers also tested the technology in the Amazon cloud.  Internet Protocol traffic was sent to Amazon, encoded, and then decoded as an application on phones.  The technology sends algebraic equations that describe a series of packets.  That way, if a packet is lost, the receiving device can solve for the missing packet instead of asking the network to resend it.  If the technology works in large-scale deployments as the researchers expect, it could help delay a spectrum bottleneck.

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