Irish academics in worldwide WiFi breakthrough

Cyberspace traffic jams could be a thing of the past after number crunchers cracked a code to free up clogged WiFi networks.

Cyberspace traffic jams could be a thing of the past after number crunchers cracked a code to free up clogged WiFi networks.

A team of 20 researchers at the Hamilton Institute in NUI Maynooth have developed cheap internet software that international academics spent the last 10 years trying unsuccessfully to create.

Professor Doug Leith, director, said the solution to slow, clogged up WiFi would be perfect for cities and revealed he was targeting the 2012 Olympics.

"London is the one I'd be interested in talking to. They seem to have some momentum," he said.

Mayor Boris Johnson has said the city will get blanket WiFi coverage by the 2012 games with the internet available on every lamp post and bus stop.

Dublin City Council announced it was planning for widespread free WiFi in 2007 but has been unable to roll it out.

The NUI team drew up a series of codes which can be simply installed on existing hardware and the equipment used to transmit WiFi signals.

The system is to be piloted in the spring on an unnamed large university campus with high levels of WiFi use.

Prof Leith and colleagues Ken Duffy and David Malone also plan to bring the software to the market next year.

"It's a very complex problem and a decade of research internationally had failed to provide any real progress. The key was to stop looking for complex solutions, think differently about the issue and come up with simple answers to the issues," Prof Leith said.

"We took this on as a challenge and have worked intensively on it over the past two years. Our hope is that it will be an enabler for civic society and for commerce.

"At the end of the day, broadband is for everyone and we all should be able to share in it as cheaply and freely as possible."

The team developed a new mathematical framework to analyse the functioning and behaviour of radio signals on WiFi networks and used this to work out where and why access was being interrupted.

Their software allows wireless transmitters to operate more effectively by sorting signals.

The Hamilton Institute is a world leading multi-disciplinary research centre, focused on the bridge between mathematics and other disciplines, including information technology and biology.

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