As the need to stay connected to the internet grows in our homes, it is critical that WiFi is available in every nook and cranny. While there are readily available devices such as Amazon’s Eero routers and Google’s Nest WiFi that will enhance the main WiFi signal. Researchers may have found another way, a software protocol, that boosts the range of the WiFi by more than 60 meters.
The researchers, headed by Brigham Young University, have named the protocol On-Off Noise Power Communication (ONPC). An average WiFi needs speeds of at least one megabit per second to sustain a signal, the ONPC protocol can sustain it on as much as one bit per second, one-millionth of the data speed otherwise required.
The protocol does this by empowering WiFi-enabled devices to transmit wireless noise as well as data. BYU says it enables the device to transmit a series of 1s and 0s, fundamentally turning on and off its signal in a specific configuration. That is sufficient to tell the WiFi router that the device is still conveying something (even if no data is being received) and uphold the signal.
Professor Neal Patawri of Washington University said:
It’s basically sending 1 bit of information that says it’s alive.
When tested, the ONPC protocol boosted the range of a regular device 67 meters further than the range of the average WiFi. The exciting part is that the ONPC is entirely software-based meaning that through a software update it can be used in any WiFi-enabled device.