A group of researchers led by MIT professor Muriel Medard have discovered a way to greatly improve the speed of wireless signals without the need for new infrastructure. By tackling the issue of dropped data packets, the team has been able to increase speeds by up to 27 times just by altering how the information is sent. As explained by Technology Review, dropped packets require data to be resent, which, when compounded over a period time, can noticeably decrease the speed of transfer. The new technology, referred to as coded TCP, addresses the problem by replacing traditional packets with algebraic descriptors, which can be solved by the receiving device to recreate missing data, thus cutting down on the time wasted when requesting new packets.
Testing is currently being done in controlled environments, but given the level of improvement, the new approach can likely still be benificial if deployed in real world situations. Several unnamed companies have already licensed the underlying technology, so we may start experiencing its benefits sooner rather than later. Considering that wireless users are already being bogged down by limited spectrum and throttled data speeds, anything that can improve the current situation is a welcome change.