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Stanford Startup Claims Solution to Longstanding Wireless Riddle

Stanford Startup Claims Solution to Longstanding Wireless Riddle MIT Technology Review


This full-duplex technology isn’t the only trick that can seemingly pull new wireless capacity out of thin air. New ways of encoding data stand the chance of making wireless networks as much as 10 times more efficient in some cases (see “A Bandwidth Breakthrough”). Various research efforts are honing new ultrafast sensing and switching tricks to change frequencies on the fly, thus making far better use of available spectrum (see “Frequency Hopping Radio Wastes Less Spectrum”). And emerging software tools allow rapid reconfiguration of wired and wireless networks, creating new efficiencies (see “TR10: Software-Defined Networking”). “A lot of the spectrum is massively underutilized, and this is one of the tools to throw in there to make better use of spectrum,” says Muriel Medard, a professor at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, and a leader in the field of network coding.

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Not useful for everything but definitely useful for some things:

Kumu’s technology—even if it works perfectly—won’t provide a big benefit in all situations. In cases where most traffic is going in one direction—such as during a video download—full-duplex technology opens up capacity that you don’t actually need, like adding inbound lanes during evening outbound rush-hour traffic.

Nonetheless, Katti sees benefits “on every wireless device in existence from cell phones and towers to Wi-Fi to Bluetooth and everything in between.” Kumu Networks has received $10 million from investors, including Khosla Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.

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