Researchers Develop 'Duplex' Wireless, Double Your Mobile Broadband Fun

Rice University graduate student Melissa Duarte with a "full-duplex" test device. [Photo: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University]
Rice University researchers has come across another breakthrough that could double the capacity of wireless signals. The "full-duplex wireless technology" allows a wireless device, such as a phone or tablet, to upload and download data on a single frequency as opposed the two required today.

The idea is that if a device could simultaneously receive and send data on the same frequency, it would free up more wireless bands without ever needing to build more antennas. However, if a device tried to "talk" and "listen" on the same frequency on a network today, the transmissions would cancel each other out in the same way that shouting over someone on speakerphone would.

The team of Rice researchers achieved a dual-signal band by employing a multiple-input multiple-output antenna (MIMO) technology. The receiving antenna is able to catch multiple signals in a way that does cancel the signals out, but the node can pick up a clear signal in a single frequency.

The researchers claim that the resulting signal quality is at least 10 times better than before thanks to multiple antennas improving the performance. Wireless companies are already looking into the technology because it can be easily retrofitted onto their multi-antenna cell towers. Meanwhile, the researchers say that this duplex technology could be easily rolled into networks as they upgrade to 4.5G or 5G.

The Rice team also plans to release full-duplex as part of its "wireless open-access research platform" (WARP). WARP is an open source software and hardware platform that allows other scientists to examine full-duplex and to make their own innovations.

[Rice University via Engadget]

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