ECE graduate student Adriana Flores wants your Wi-Fi to be faster and more reliable. Last month, she won Best Paper for her work on that topic at the 2014 IEEE Workshop on Cognitive Radio Architectures for Broadband (CRAB).
The project, “Virtual Duplex: Scaling Dense WLANs and Eliminating Contention Asymmetry,” which was also her master’s thesis, is a new way to balance Wi-Fi traffic.
“It is fantastic work and a well-deserved award,” said ECE chair Edward Knightly, Flores’ advisor. “Adriana’s work addresses a key reason that hot spots can slow to a crawl: access points cannot efficiently stream content to clients because of excessive contention. Her split-channel solution is elegant and very practical.”
Flores created a medium access protocol that provides independent resources to download and upload traffic, which typically fight for the same resources. Her protocol removes contention asymmetry and traffic asymmetry, by dividing the single medium into two, one for upload and one for download. This provides upload and download with independent performance and operation.
“The way we use Wi-Fi, the traffic is much heavier in the download versus the upload, so the way we access the medium is actually agnostic to how many elements are generating download and upload traffic and how much traffic is generated by each,” Flores said.
“By separating the spectrum resources you can actually have independent and asynchronous operation of them. If you know your network has a lot more download traffic, say 7-1, then you can give a 7-1 spectrum of division between download and upload,” she explained.
Because each channel is used efficiently, it provides a six-times faster download, without adding any extra antennas or spectrum resources.
“We are using the same resources, but we are doing it more efficiently. In very congested scenarios or hotspots like stadiums this would be a perfect solution,” she said.
“CRAB was an interesting and exciting conference, I met a lot of grad students and we became very close; I also met people from industry and academia from which I learned a lot of insights from diverse topics,” she said. “Everyone at Rice has so much great work! I was proud to represent the Owls at this conference.”