ETH Zurich Quadruples WLAN Speeds to 216 Mbps

MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology is becoming common in wireless networks based on the pre-802.11n standard. The existing technology, however, has limits in multi-user wireless networks.

Researchers at ETH in Zurich have constructed and demonstrated a MIMO WLAN system capable of data rates up to 216 Mbps in a multi-user network.

“For the first time, the Zurich-based researchers were able to demonstrate that the principle of multiple antenna systems is actually feasible for use in complex wireless networks both theoretically and using their test facility,” ETH Zurich said in a news release Wednesday (March 12). “In doing so, they succeeded in constructing a compact multi-user system, currently with three stations in a bench scale, where every station transmits or receives via four antennae. This meant that the utilization of the frequency range for each of the three users could be up to four times higher than with present-day WLAN networks.”

One of the goals of the project is to develop procedures to decode the MIMO signals as efficiently as possible. Adding more users and more antennas to the system increases the amount of data that can be transmitted but makes it more difficult to demodulate the signal.

The work is part of the MASCOT (Multiple-Access Space-Timing Coding Testbed) project. The three-year project started in 2006. In February, ETH Zurich held its first open house to demonstrate the technology. Presentations from the event are available on-line.

MIMO technology has uses beyond wireless networks. In unrelated projects, researchers elsewhere are investigating use of MIMO technology to increase the data capacity and robustness of terrestrial DTV transmission without increasing the amount of spectrum required.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.