It was an additional step to make the exchange asynchronous – that is, to make it possible for the receiver on one end to begin taking in a new data stream while its broadcaster is already sending.
Otherwise creating a full duplex connection would mean forcing each pair of linked devices negotiate the timing every time they tried to make a connection, which would put a lot of small kinks in the hose, reducing the amount of water that can flow through it at any given moment.
The approach is an adapted version of multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) WiFi networking that is common in home routers.
In July the Rice team published a paper describing how the wave-cancellation, asynchronous and duplexing connections should work, both theoretically and in their own implementation.
The advantage, from a carrier's point of view, is that Sabharwal's full-duplex approach requires very little refitting or additional equipment to work on existing cell networks.
"Our solution requires minimal new hardware, both for mobile devices and for networks, which is why we've attracted the attention of just about every wireless company in the world," a statement from Rice quoted Sabharwal as saying. "The bigger change will be developing new wireless standards for full-duplex. I expect people may start seeing this when carriers upgrade to 4.5G or 5G networks in just a few years."
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Rice Univ./ Ashutosh Sabharwal