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Researchers at Gonzaga University are trying to accomplish by testing "smart antenna" technology that will improve Wi-Fi performance by blocking interference. This technology could be very disruptive if it gets into the hands of small business and entrepreneurs.  Everyone has had the problem of going into a crowded Starbucks and suffered through a congested Wi-Fi network or poor signal. The airspace is full of lots of people trying to communicate over the 2.4GHz band, which is used for WiFi.  Now imagine if all WiFi networks were open and not password protected by wireless broadband users and you can access any WiFi network free while driving or walking around town?  Kind of like sharing tap water out of the faucet?  The reality is cell phone coverage stinks and WiFi hotspots are growing 25x faster than cell phone towers.

WiFi access points are typically "dumb" and radiate power in all directions at once. This is typically caused by too few access points and too many end users. Now what if improved Wi-Fi antennas could do a better job of detecting how many devices were nearby and could push data out to each person more rapidly on an individual basis? The new software or antenna firmware will try to optimize the transmission between your computer or smartphone and the access point while also minimizing what you're receiving from other computers. In theory the WiFi access points would do this very quickly, and actually it would take less time dealing with each radio one at a time than trying to push out data to them all at once.

Two of the main types of smart antennas include switched beam and adaptive array smart antennas. Switched beam antennas make a decision as to which beam to access, at any given point in time, thus optimizing the network.  New adaptive array antennas allow the it to steer the signal beam to any direction of interest while simultaneously blocking interfering signal.  Read more on Wikipedia.

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