Urbana-Champaign (IL) – Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed an application that can speed Internet connections by pooling idle bandwidth from wireless networks. By downloading and installing the open-source Practical End-host collaborative Residential Multihoming (PERM) client, neighbors can combine their wireless network cards and wireless access points (WAPs) into a community network.
PERM binds each wireless network interface with an outside WAP, and while there is no theoretical limit to how many shared connections can be established, Assistant Computer Science professor Haiyun Luo, the head researcher of the PERM project, told TG Daily there were practical limits. “While you could potentially double your throughput, there is a limit on how many neighbors (with WAPs) you have and how many wireless cards you can fit into your computer,” says Luo. He added that a laptop user could potentially use the total bandwidth from three networks by using the internal wi-fi card, along with two wireless PC Cards.
While frequent downloaders may want to use PERM to download larger files more quickly, Luo told us that the project is meant to help interactive applications like telnet, chat programs, and online games. Traditionally these applications have slowed to a crawl when a large download has been started. “Now, you can have your Bittorrent traffic using one connection and your telnet on another,” says Luo.
While PERM is freely downloadable, Luo is asking people to input their names and e-mail addresses as a security measure against bandwidth thieves. Using the information, the download page creates a custom distribution containing security keys. “The software is fully automatic when you run it, you don’t need to call your neighbor or anything, so this protects against free riding,” says Luo.
Currently the application only runs on certain Linksys routers and Linux computers, but Luo is looking to port the program to Windows. “Not too many people run Linux on their desktops, so we are looking for a programmer who can convert the software to Windows,” says Luo.