“WiFi HaLow” is What They’re Calling Wi-Fi for IoT

The latest version of Wi-Fi is long range, low power, and set up to bolster IoT (Internet of Things) networks. It will be know as W-Fi HaLow, according to what the WiFi Alliance announced just prior to CES.

Wi-Fi HaLow, (which is pronounced Hay-Low) is with us as a result of the patent pending IEEE 802.11ah specifications. It is set to be deployed for use everywhere from smart houses to smart cities, connected cars and wearables, with thousands of battery powered sensors being connected to one main Wi-Fi AP (Access Point).

The Wi-Fi Alliance is comprised of approximately 700 vendors; they expect to roll out a process of certification for products using Wi-Fi HaLow in 2018, according to official reports. However, it is expected that products set up to support the application will be on the market much sooner. The finalization of IEEE 802.11ah is nearing and has already entered what is termed as the “technical phase.”

W-Fi HaLow will be set up to operate below 1GHz on the wireless spectrum, which is the unlicensed range, and this will also mean that it can get more penetration through barriers like walls and doors, due to the propagation capabilities that low frequency radio waves have. It will be able to transmit a signal to distances that are double what Wi-Fi can currently cover, with some claiming that it will reach 1 kilometer, or 3,280 feet.

The initial certification for Wi-Fi HaLow equipment’s data rate will be up to 18Mbps, according to official reports from the W-Fi Alliance. The low range will be as low as 150Kbps, which can be achieved with a 1MHz channel. In order to get the 18Mbps data rate, manufacturers will need to be using a channel that is 4MHz wide. The maximum data rate could be as high as 78Mbps when using a channel that is 16Mhz wide, however, the Wi-Fi Alliance is not yet prepared to certify equipment with anything over a 4MHz channel.

The fact of slower throughput will not make a lot of difference to the advanced IoT applications being imagined for Wi-Fi HaLow, with the sensors being battery powered and transmitting data in occasional short bursts. Faster throughput only has an impact when powering applications such as HD video and other similar data-heavy applications.