By Dennis Jones
I know, we all love Wi-Fi. It allows us to connect easily to the information we need, when we need it, which tamps down on a lot of inefficiencies. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive, while still allowing us to better perform a lot more data-draining tasks. On whole, a massive net benefit. But sometimes, getting connected isn’t easy. Enter big data, in the form of researchers at Tsinghua University in China, who are leveraging data mining techniques to improve the Wi-Fi connectivity experience.
Let’s start at the beginning. Between the networks and the devices that connect to them, Wi-Fi connectivity problems can flare up. Those problems can create failed connections. Using an Android app, Wi-Fi Manager, researchers looked at 400 million Wi-Fi sessions, analyzing how long it took for users to get connected via Wi-Fi. That app records, in some detail, the steps it takes to get online and how long each takes.
So what are those steps?
- Firstly, your device scans the airwaves for available Wi-Fi access points to select.
- Secondly, data packets are transferred between the two devices.
- Next, authentication is required.
- Finally, the dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) step provides your device with an IP address.
Voila, you’re connected. Well, most of the time at least. Sometimes, that process breaks down or merely bloats; and the researchers wanted to find out why and where.
Turns out there’re a couple of factors that impact Wi-Fi connectivity times, including the quality of the hotspot, the mobile device’s operating system, as well as chipsets in mobile devices and access points.
Based on these findings, the researchers created an algorithm, designed to optimize Wi-Fi connectivity performance, by simply sidestepping statistically negative outcomes when possible. As an example, the algorithm would choose a subset of statistically higher performing access points over statistically lower-performing access points.
Pretty smart, right? It almost sounds like our very own iPass SmartConnect™ technology, an intelligent, self-learning Wi-Fi service platform, also designed to improve Wi-Fi connectivity.