Qualcomm claims it can triple Wi-Fi speeds with new 'MU-MIMO' technology

(Credit: Wikipedia / Coolcaesar)Qualcomm headquarters in San Diego.

Qualcomm, Inc. identified the new technology as "MU-MIMO," which stands for "multi-user, multiple input, multiple output."

This new technology allows networks to transmit data to multiple groups of users simultaneously using algorithms that adapt on the fly to changes in usage. Qualcomm said MU-MIMO could triple Wi-Fi speeds in homes, offices and on public networks.

Qualcomm plans to sell MU-MIMO-enabled chips to manufacturers of wireless routers and access points, and to companies that make smartphones, tablets and other consumer electronics. It plans to start demonstrating the technology in the next few months before beginning shipments to customers early 2015. 

When both the network and its users employing MU-MIMO, Qualcomm claims it will boost speeds by two to three times. Devices on MU-MIMO networks that aren't equipped with the technology won't see quite that improvement, but should still gain some additional benefit.

Wi-Fi networks can presently only serve one device at a time, cycling quickly among different users. That creates slower speeds for everyone when more devices connect to the network.

Qualcomm said that on a network like this, streaming or video chatting can be like sitting in the driver's seat at rush hour: you'll get to your destination, but it's going to take some time. It compared using MU-MIMO to using the carpool lane: the Wi-Fi highway doesn't change, but grouping up with other users lets you go much faster while de-congesting other lanes.

Qualcomm is a global semiconductor company that designs, manufactures and markets digital wireless telecommunications products and services. It's based in San Diego, California.

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