Microsoft patents low-power tethering Wi-Fi, could make it to its next flagship phone

By: Madeleine Dean
2 minute read

Microsoft has registered a patent titled “POWER SAVING WI-FI TETHERING” which addresses the issue of a draining battery when using a smartphone as a hotspot. This is an excellent piece of news for those of you who are always on the go and require instant internet connection on your devices.

The main issue that arises when using a smartphone as a tethering device is battery consumption. Even if the battery is fully charged, it will drain much faster than regular due to the fact that the phone needs to be in full power mode when its Internet connection is activated. Enabling the hotspot feature on your phone does not mean that battery will drain faster, but rather when there is a lot of traffic. The more traffic there is, the faster your battery will drain.

In order to save battery life, most phones automatically turn tethering off after some minutes of idle time. However, this can be quite annoying at times. That’s what Microsoft’s patent addresses. Instead of the previous situation, the two devices can coordinate sleep/idle time when there is no data exchange and the phone can enter a low-battery mode as the patent report reads:

The techniques discussed herein reduce the power consumption of a Wi-Fi tethering device by switching the Wi-Fi functionality of the Wi-Fi tethering device from a normal operational mode to a sleep mode during idle intervals. The techniques implement a sleep protocol where a Wi-Fi tethering device and a Wi-Fi client device coordinate and establish a sleep schedule. Moreover, the techniques describe a sleep interval adaptation algorithm to establish sleep duration intervals for the sleep schedule. The sleep interval adaptation algorithm may be configured to determine the sleep duration intervals based at least on data packet exchange patterns associated with different applications executing on the Wi-Fi client device and/or different operations being performed by the Wi-Fi client device.

With Redmond’s patent, the length of the low-power mode can be automatically adjusted depending on the type of activity.
If you are reading something on the web, this period can be longer. If you are playing a network game, the low-battery period is much shorter.

Since this kind of technology is now available, this means that Microsoft could implement the feature in its future phone models. The tech giant has not yet confirmed this but given the number of users who have been complaining about battery draining issues when tethering, this should come as no surprise.

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