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In today’s times when offices, colleges, and schools have come to homes due to the ongoing pandemic, Wi-Fi connectivity has become very important for every household. And it’s not just our PCs and mobile phones, but we may have plenty of other smart devices like smart assistants, smart displays, smartwatches, smart kitchen appliances, etc in our homes. Together, they are called the Internet of Things (IoT) and each of these devices communicates to each other over mediums like WiFi. And with the increasing number of such devices, the WiFi connection must face challenges in terms of power consumption, coverage, speeds, etc. So, to tackle that, there is a new WiFi standard in the town named WiFi HaLow.

WiFi HaLow (IEEE 802.11ah standard) is a new breakthrough in WiFi technology that will enable a long-range connection of up to 1 km at much less power consumption. It has already gained certification from the Wi-Fi alliance which is the worldwide network of companies that brings WiFi to your homes.

What is WiFi HaLow?

It has been designed keeping the mind the massive rise in the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. As IoT apps increase across schools, industries, and homes, more and more devices need to stay connected to the internet throughout the day. WiFi HaLow seems to be a solution to this requirement.

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What will WiFi HaLow offer?

The new WiFi HaLow promises significant battery powers savings as compared to the current Wi-Fi and can connect up to 1 kilometer away from the source. It builds on the existing WiFi protocols and is workable with the current WiFi devices.

This is a bonus as it will not require any new WiFi connection methods or proprietary technology for use and would be scalable in the current setup. HaLow can achieve a top speed of 80Mbps at 1m in 16GHz channel width but drops significantly to 150 kbps at 1km.

The standard also offers a variety of other features that are crucial to IoT deployment. These include:

  • The ability to penetrate through walls and obstacles
  • Extremely low power consumption thanks to a variety of deep sleep power-saving modes
  • Low cost by operating on low-complexity radios
  • Decreased silicon complexity

How will WiFi HaLow work?

The standard WiFi being used these days mostly operates between 2.4GHz – 5GHz radio frequency which transmits a high amount of data in a short time, so use a large bandwidth. WiFi HaLow will work in the sub-1 GHz spectrum which will enable a longer wavelength. This would mean that the signals will be able to travel longer distances than what is normally possible with higher spectrums.

This is the reason that a single WiFi HaLow access point will exceed a 1 km radius and support internet access for more than 8000 devices spread across hundreds of acres.

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WiFi HaLow will work well in industrial, agricultural, and other such setups too as it will be perfect for logistics. This is because WiFi HaLow’s low frequency will be able to penetrate through shipping materials. It can be implemented for various uses across a smart city, traffic monitors and traffic lights being some of the applications. Sensors or devices can be placed across distant fields and connected to WiFi HaLow in agriculture.

However, the only catch is that WiFi HaLow suffers from data transfer speeds compared to its counterparts. This shouldn’t be a problem in IoT setups though since they hardly require too much data communication within the network. IoT devices at home like ACs, Door locks, Cameras require very simple information to be passed on through the internet, and thus, WiFi HaLow will be more than capable of running them.

The potential for WiFi HaLow is thus promising as there’s a constant rise in new IoT apps. We could fairly estimate this new technology could be the next big enabler in the field of WiFi and the Internet.

Wi-Fi HaLow will broadly adopt existing Wi-Fi protocols and deliver many of the benefits that consumers have come to expect from Wi-Fi today, including multi-vendor interoperability, strong government-grade security, and easy setup,” said Kevin Robinson, senior vice president of marketing for Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit organization that owns the Wi-Fi trademark.

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