Wi-Fi range could extend over 60 meters with a software update

Having a good Wi-Fi connectivity that reaches every corner of the house has become a necessity these days. But it is sometimes difficult to cover an entire house or an entire domain with a single router. That’s why Wi-Fi range extenders and mesh networks are popular, however, it requires to purchase additional equipment.

Researchers led by a professor at Brigham Young University in the United States have discovered another way to expand the Wi-Fi range of the base wireless router by as much as 60 meters (200 feet) by simply changing the software. That means it does not require any additional hardware, which is the best part, I guess!

Their software protocol called On-Off Noise Power Communication (ONPC) can be programmed right on top of the existing Wi-Fi protocol using the same hardware. Wi-Fi typically needs a speed of one megabit per second (1 Mbps) to maintain a signal, but with the ONPC protocol, one bit per second is enough. This makes it possible to maintain communication over a longer distance.

BYU explains that the system allows you to send a series of 1s and 0s, activating and deactivating signals corresponding to specific patterns, which enables you to keep the connection alive and manage the impulses connected to the transmission.

If the access point (router) hears this code, it says, ‘OK, I know the sensor is still alive and trying to reach me, it’s just out of range,’” explains Professor Neal Patawri of Washington University in St. Louis. “It’s basically a matter of sending 1 bit of information that says it’s alive.

In tests, the ONPC protocol allowed researchers to extend the range of a device by 67 meters beyond the range of standard Wi-Fi.

But note that, the ONPC protocol is not meant to replace Wi-Fi or even long-range wireless protocols like LoRa, but is meant to supplement Wi-Fi. The team suggests that it might be good enough for smart home devices that simply need an on/off message, such as a garage door sensor, an air quality monitor, or even a sprinkler system.