The Wi-Fi Alliance wants you to say HaLow to their little frequency, which will enable the low power long range that devices will need to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). HaLow is what the alliance calls the new 802.11ah standard, which operates in frequency bands below one gigahertz, and it will be the signal standard behind connected cars, digital healthcare, “Smart Homes,” and “Smart Cities” as well as a full range of industry uses.
HaLow extends Wi-Fi into the 900 MHz range, and many new devices supporting HaLow are also expected to be compatible with the 6.8 billion existing 802.11x devices through 2.4 and 5 GHz operability. The lower band signals are generated with lower electrical power, but have nearly twice the range of previous standards, and also penetrate into buildings more easily.
“Wi-Fi HaLow is well suited to meet the unique needs of the Smart Home, Smart City, and industrial markets because of its ability to operate using very low power, penetrate through walls, and operate at significantly longer ranges than Wi-Fi today,” Edgar Figueroa, President and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance said in a statement. “Wi-Fi HaLow expands the unmatched versatility of Wi-Fi to enable applications from small, battery-operated wearable devices to large-scale industrial facility deployments – and everything in between.”
HaLow devices will also follow existing Wi-Fi protocols with IP-based connectivity support, to connect natively to the cloud, which the alliance recognizes as “increasingly important” for IoT development.
Technical challenges arising from the anticipated growth of the IoT and proliferation of devices have been anticipated, including energy efficiency, range, and bandwidth challenges. IDC reported in late 2014 that IoT devices could strangle many networks, and more recently Ericsson and Orange partnered to test new networking approaches and technologies to support the IoT.