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Microsofts Tests WiFi in Vehicles

By Doug Mohney

Microsoft is testing WiFi usage in vehicles, an effort that is shedding new light on public wireless networks and how VoIP calls might get transmitted - or not.

Testing is being conducted around Seattle, and the biggest advantage to tapping into a community WiFi network is lower cost of access. Plus, every mobile device has built-in WiFi these days .

However, WiFi has a big problem with hand-offs between base stations; not so good for an in-progress VoIP call over a cheaper WiFi network. (You may queue your WiMAX commercial here in a limited number of second-tier U.S. markets). There's also the assumption that there's a nice big WiFi network available for use; the muni WiFi market has had its ups and downs of late.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, the University of Washington and Microsoft have worked up a solution to talk to multiple access points at once. The "Vi-Fi" (Vehicle WiFi) system would treat one access point as an "anchor" primary reception point and use other base stations in the system as auxiliary paths.

Some tricky math allows the system to figure out the chance a packet received by an auxiliary base station wasn't received by the anchor; if true, the aux base station relays the packet to the anchor as a backup. [FierceBroadbandWireless]

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