With considerable industry momentum building around the requirement for a low power wireless solution, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced this new technology earlier in the year, based on the pending IEEE 802.11ah specification.
Unlike standards such as 802.11ac, HaLow is not aimed at delivering multi-stream, ultra-high throughput performance. Its challenge is to cost effectively provide longer range and lower power consumption connectivity to Wi-Fi certified products; more and more of which are battery powered.
The 802.11ah protocol operates in the 900MHz spectrum and not the usual 2.4GHz or 5GHz, this choice helps reduce power consumption and extend transmission range at the same time. It is expected that the radius of a Wi-Fi HaLow device will be up to one kilometre – twice that of current Wi-Fi standards. On the other hand, the Wi-Fi Alliance has provided estimated data rates of between 150 kilobits per second and 18 megabits per second, which is much lower than traditional Wi-Fi.
HaLow is not designed to be faster than the existing wireless technologies. It is intended for relatively simple and infrequent communications amongst devices across long distances. Essentially, this technology is intended to compete against Bluetooth.
HaLow is well suited to meet the unique needs of the Smart Home and City, and also the industrial markets due to its ability to operate using very low power, penetrate through walls, and operate at significantly longer ranges than today’s standard Wi-Fi.
Moreover, HaLow endpoints will support IP based connectivity to natively connect to the cloud, unlike their Bluetooth counterparts, which will become increasingly important in reaching the full potential of the Internet of Things. Dense device deployments will also benefit from the ability to connect thousands of devices to a single HaLow access point.
Its applications will include wearables like fitness trackers and personal health monitors, the Smart Home, with devices like smart locks, thermostats, home sensors, security cameras, and smoke detectors, and the Smart City with connected cars, smart parking meters and much more. HaLow will generally suit environments where a potentially large number of battery-operated Wi-Fi devices can be connected to a single wireless access point and interoperate directly with each other and with the internet.
If HaLow can really do what the Wi-Fi alliance claims, it is going to be a big deal. It is essentially promising to do everything Bluetooth can, but at a longer range and with the ability to connect directly to your router, and therefore the internet.
We have high expectations of HaLow.