Good, reliable home broadband is so much more than a luxury these days. It’s a necessity.
As we fill every nook and corner of our homes with AI voice-activated assistants, smart sound systems, security cameras, video-sporting doorbells, and connected heating systems and boilers, we increasingly need full Wi-Fi coverage in every room in the home.
There are already a number of solutions on the market to try and solve this problem. BT Complete Wi-Fi, Amazon’s Eero and Google Nest Wi-Fi all use a mesh network of physical boosters around the home to fill in any blackholes in your coverage and keep speeds ticking along.
But these solutions can be a little costly, not to mention the fact that you’ve got to fill your home with more blinking boxes. It’s not ideal.
Thankfully, researchers believe they’ve now stumbled across a much more elegant solution to the problem – a simple software update to your primary Wi-Fi router which can boost the distance covered by the signal by more than 60 metres. For most people, that means at least an extra few rooms of seamless Netflix streaming, multi-room Sky Q viewing, or crystal clear responses from Alexa.
The researchers, which were led by Brigham Young University, have branded the updated firmware On-Off Noise Power Communication (ONPC).
While Wi-Fi usually needs to have speeds of at least one megabit per second to maintain a signal with your device, the new ONPC protocol can maintain the same signal strength with as little as one bit per second. That’s one-millionth of the speed typically required.
So, what does that mean?
Well, dropping the requirement means devices can beam the one bit per second from much further than they would be able to with the previous one megabit requirements.
Engadget put the new system to the test and saw off-the-shelf gadgets boosted work from 67 metres away – much further than standard Wi-Fi.
Best of all, the researchers have developed a system that works on-top of the existing industry-standard Wi-Fi protocol. That means it could be rolled-out to almost any Wi-Fi enabled device through a small software update to boost their ability to connect to your existing off-the-shelf Wi-Fi router.
Of course, this is just research so there’s no guarantee that we’ll see this optional update roll-out to your Wi-Fi devices anytime soon. So, don’t put-off your Eero or Google Nest Wi-Fi purchase just yet as it could be some years before we see this software boost land in your home.
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