How a Simple Circuit Breakthrough Could Double Your Bandwidth

As we all desperately claw after more bandwidth to sate our unquenchable thirst for data, there may yet be an oddly affordable solution; a simple piece of circuitry and software that can double bandwidth in the blink of an eye.

A startup outta Stanford claims it can do what nobody has yet managed: both send and receive data on the same radio frequency. Bingo, double the bandwidth. But how does it work?

Called 'full-duplex radio', the technique essentially attempts to solve an age-old radio communication problem known as self-interference, reports Technology Review. Radios both send and receive data, but sent signals are way stronger; trying to receive data on the same frequency as the sent signal is screwed up by the fact the radio picks up its outgoing signal there, too. That's why practically all devices—smartphones,Wi-Fi routers, you name it—spew out data on one frequency and receive on another, or use one frequency and rapidly switch between sending and receiving.

But now Kumu Networks has built a circuit that can predict how much interference a radio’s transmitted signal will create, then generate a signal to cancel it out. In turn, that leaves the gates open to incoming signal on the same frequency. It's no easy task—especially given there's so much signal bouncing around these days, which also has to be taken into account—but the group claims not only that it works, but it can double bandwidth.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they don't explain in too much detail exactly how it works, but they are about to embark on a project with some "unspecified major wireless carriers" in 2014, which is exciting. It might not be a panacea to all out data problems—particularly where traffic tends to flow predominantly in one direction, like streaming video—but for applications where flow is back and forth, this could be quite an improvement. [Kumu Networks via Technology Review]