The Wifi Alliance industry association has chosen HaLow as the designation for a new technology that uses unlicensed 900 MHz spectrum and 802.11ah standard for lower power wifi.
The principal significance of HaLow is expected to be its enablement of a new generation of smart home devices thanks to the lower power required to connect to it, compared to current wifi in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The lower frequency also promises greater range.
“Wifi 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 wifi today,” said Edgar Figueroa, President and CEO of the Wifi Alliance. “Wifi HaLow expands the unmatched versatility of wifi to enable applications from small, battery-operated wearable devices to large-scale industrial facility deployments – and everything in between.”
The 802.11ah standard has been mulled over by the IEEE for some time and is set to be the first major new one for a few years. While 802.11ac focused on higher throughput at higher frequency, this latest one goes in the opposite direction in the name of IoT.
It’s especially poignant to see wifi move into frequency territory usually associated with mobile phones at a time when many wifi stakeholders are alarmed at the prospect of their bandwidth being hijacked by LTE-U. For everyone else, however, the prospect of getting good wifi access in every corner of the house will be welcome.
The Wifi Alliance hasn’t offered any timescales for the commercial availability of HaLow, but the IEEE doesn’t seem to think the 802.11ah standard will be formally approved until Q3 of this year.