The work has already been used to evaluate and optimise the performance of Virgin Media’s new Super Hub WiFi router.
Professor Andrew Nix from the CSN Group, in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, is leading the work.
“Our new technique allows WiFi products to be rigorously and repeatedly analysed,” he explained. “Manufacturers can now optimise the speed and coverage of their products before they release them to their customers.”
“Our co-operation with Farncombe (a provider of technical consultancy and engineering services to the TV industry) has enabled a comprehensive WiFi test that is well-tailored to the needs of video service providers. This is vital given the sophistication of the latest chipsets and the complexity of in-home radio wave propagation.”
The university report also quotes Dr Geoff Hilton, who co-developed the process and specialises in advanced antenna design:
“Modern WiFi routers typically include between four and six internal antennas. The types of antenna, position, orientation and their proximity to other electronic components and the outer casing all make a significant difference. To predict the performance of a new product we need to measure how each of its antennas radiate in 3D space.”
The team used the University’s anechoic chamber for antenna characterisation – the test unit is rotated for all angles while the response of each antenna is measured. The end result, says Bristol, is “a set of complex ‘3D’ antenna patterns that describe how the signals radiate to and from each antenna into the home”.
[Image: A WiFi router under evaluation in the University’s Anechoic Chamber, by Professor Andrew Nix and Dr Geoff Hilton]