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New tech could put an end to overcrowded public Wi-Fi hotspots

Faster Public Wi-Fi Technology

Chipmaker Qualcomm announced on Thursday that it would support MU-MIMO (multi user-multiple-input multiple-output) in its upcoming network equipment and mobile chipsets, according to PC World. Simply put, this means that we will hopefully soon run into fewer overcrowded public Wi-Fi signals.

Right now, public Wi-Fi signals can easily be overwhelmed with hundreds of users and can lead to an extremely slow Internet connection or none at all. As PC World explains it, wireless access points “use short time slots to communicate with only one user at a time.” With MU-MIMO, access points will be able to communicate with multiple users at a time, potentially increasing speeds to 600 Mbps.

“In our case the network can talk to three clients at a time, so effectively it has a two to three times capacity improvement,” Todd Antes, vice president at Qualcomm Atheros, told PC World.

To take advantage of MU-MIMO, both the access point and the mobile device need to support the new technology. Right now, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 processor supports MU-MIMO, which is behind the HTC One (M8) and the Samsung Galaxy S5. However, a software update is needed to activate MU-MIMO. Qualcomm will also support MU-MIMO in Snapdragon 805 processor.

Qualcomm competitor Quantenna also supports MU-MIMO, and its chip has made it into an Asus router already. The Wi-Fi Alliance will begin testing MU-MIMo later this year or early next year to ensure that MU-MIMO chips are interoperable with each other.