How Edgewater’s WiFi3 could make public Wi-Fi actually work

There are few things more annoying than trying to connect to Wi-Fi and failing, or thinking you’re connected only to lose connection randomly. Despite our advances in mobile technology throughout the last decade, Wi-Fi remains a problem. We want it to work, but whenever too many people start using it, data tends to jam up. Edgewater thinks it has solved this. A couple days ago, the company unveiled WiFi3, a new technology that can drastically improve the performance of Wi-Fi routers and hotspots on large and small scales — no changes to our devices are required. It just works.

Normal Wi-Fi provides service to every device on a network through a single channel on the 2.4GHz or 5.0GHz wireless bands (typically only one at a time). This works great when you have one or two devices, but as soon as you get a bunch of devices competing for time and data, things start to get messy. Added to the problem is the tendency of multiple Wi-Fi routers to actually hurt the signal of one another and make things worse, rather than better (two routers should be better than one, right?). If you’ve ever tried to use public Wi-Fi in an airport or park, you’ve probably experienced this problem. As a journalist, obtaining reliable Wi-Fi at trade shows and events is often a futile affair — there are just too many other journalists competing for limited wireless space. Those who live in a city are likely dealing with a lot of Wi-Fi interference from their neighbors as well. WiFi3 appears to solve almost all of these problems.

An outdoor model of Edgewater's WiFi3 routerHere’s how WiFi3 works: Representatives at CTIA 2012 told us that the technology eases Wi-Fi congestion by splitting the 2.4GHz (or 5GHz) channel into three separate channels, and routing information intelligently across these three separate channels. This means that your devices will compete less for bandwidth. And if things get really hairy, WiFi3 is even capable of splitting each of those three channels into four more, creating 12 open pathways for data. Interference is solved as well. Edgewater says that its routers can work together to form “mesh networks,” each working on different channels to avoid interference and create a stronger overall network.

The technology sounds fantastic. Sadly, Edgewater doesn’t want to license it yet. Instead, it is first keeping the technology proprietary so that it can sell its own routers and products. Hopefully this will change soon. While we may see benefit if we step into public Wi-Fi hotspots or corporate hotspots controlled by Edgewater’s WiFi3 equipment, it would benefit everyone if all wireless modems and routers came with this technology built in. Hopefully Edgewater will license its tech soon. It would be great if Wi-Fi  was usable and reliable in areas with lots of devices. 

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