WiFi connections are half-duplex, but conventional LAN connections are full-duplex. It seems that by connecting over WiFi, something has to give. Were we taken advantage of? Do you like losing half of something? Worse, will we be unable to do certain things with our computers and peripheral devices if they are linked over WiFi?
Duplex versus Simplex
The word ‘duplex’ in networking refers to the capacity of two points or devices to interact with each other, as opposed to’simplex,’ which refers to unidirectional communication. Both points (devices) in a duplex communication system may send and receive data. Telephones and walkie-talkies are examples of duplex systems.
Simplex systems, on the other hand, only let one device to send data while another receives it. The popular infrared remote control is an example of a simplex system, since it delivers signals but never gets any in return.
Full and Half-Duplex
Full-duplex communication between two components implies that they may both send and receive data at the same time. Telephones are full-duplex systems, which means that both sides may speak and listen at the same time.
In half-duplex systems, information must be sent and received alternately. The other point must only receive when one is sending. A walkie-talkie radio communication system is a half-duplex system, which is distinguished by the use of the phrase “over” at the conclusion of a transmission to indicate that the party is ready to receive information.
How Duplexing Affects WiFi Routers
WiFi routers are devices that regulate and schedule the flow of information to and from any WiFi-capable electronic device (such as a laptop or smartphone) to the Internet by using the IEEE 802.11 standard, which operates at half-duplex. WiFi is just the brand name for this particular IEEE standard (understand the common WiFi standards).
WiFi devices use radio waves at 2.4GHz or 5GHz to connect to the router wirelessly. The router schedules and ensures that information flows correctly between each connected device and the Internet, without collision or loss, using a mechanism known as Time Division Duplexing (TDD) to mimic full-duplexing.
TDD imitates full-duplexing by establishing or dividing time intervals that alternate between transmission and reception. Data packets go in both directions according to the time divisions. By finely slicing these time periods, devices linked in this manner seem to be sending and receiving at the same moment.
Why Can’t Current Routers Run At Full-Duplex?
Self-interference is the most difficult obstacle to getting full-duplex capabilities via radio. This interference or noise is stronger than the genuine signal. Simply explained, interference in a full-duplex system happens when a single point transmits and receives at the same time, and it also receives its own transmission, resulting in self-interference.
In the domains of research and academics, practical full-duplex wireless is achievable. This is mostly accomplished by canceling self-interference on two levels. The first is signal inversion of the noise signal itself, followed by digital enhancement of the noise-cancellation process. In 2010 and 2011, a few Stanford University students constructed operational full-duplex radio prototypes (read the white paper).Some of these students went on to form KUMU Networks, a commercial firm dedicated to reinventing wireless networking.
Other studies include Cornell University’s IBFD (In-Band Full-Duplex) and Photonic Systems Inc.’s STAR (Simultaneous Transmit and Receive).
What About Wired LAN?
The wired part of the LAN communicates in full-duplex mode over two pairs of twisted wires that constitute the ethernet cable connection. Each pair is committed to transmitting and receiving information packets at the same time, resulting in no data collisions or interference.
Here’s everything you need to know about Ethernet cables.
Progress In WiFi Connectivity
Changes were made to the IEEE 802.11 protocol to improve either range or data speed, or both. From its inception in 1997 to 2013, WiFi standards evolved from 802.11 to 802.11b/a, 802.11g, 802.11n, and, most recently, 802.11ac (should you purchase a wireless-AC router?). No matter how sophisticated they have grown, they are still part of the 802.11 family and will always operate at half-duplex. Despite advancements, most notably the addition of MIMO (what is MIMO? ), operating at half-duplex decreases total spectral efficiency by half.
Surprisingly, MIMO-enabled routers (multiple-input multiple-output) offer much higher data speeds. These routers use multiple antennas to broadcast and receive many data streams at the same time, which increases total transfer speeds. This is typical in 802.11n and later routers, which offer speeds of up to 600 megabits per second. However, since they are half-duplex, half of the bandwidth (300 megabits per second) is held for broadcasting and the other half is reserved for receiving.
Full-Duplex WiFi In The Future
Commercial interest in full-duplex wireless communication is growing. The fundamental reason for this is because developments in half-duplex FDD and TDD are reaching saturation. It is becoming more difficult to improve software, modulation, and MIMO. As more devices connect wirelessly, the requirement for improved spectral efficiency will become more pressing. The immediate doubling of this spectral efficiency has been shown using a full-duplex wireless connection.
This transition from half-duplex to full-duplex will become more significant in regions where there is less effect on hardware, software reconfiguration, legislative changes, and monetary investments. We may see full-duplex WiFi in the near future, first with the newest half-duplex components, driven initially by the demand for increased capacity.
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