802.11ah Wi-Fi standard approved, will underpin Internet of Things

A new wireless standard that extends Wi-Fi’s reach down into the 900MHz band will keep the 802.11 family at the center of the developing Internet of Things, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced today.

The new standard, 802.11ah, combines lower power requirements with a lower frequency, which means that those signals propagate better. That offers a much larger effective range than current Wi-Fi standards, which operate on 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, and lets the newer technology penetrate walls and doors more easily.

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The alliance, which refers to 802.11ah as HaLow, said that the technology will be well-suited to the vast numbers of new connected devices predicted to be in use soon across many different areas, including auto, smart home, industrial, and retail, among others.

Moreover, HaLow will interoperate with existing 802.11x devices, bringing the Internet of Things firmly into the 6.8-billion-strong ecosystem of Wi-Fi devices, the group said in its announcement. Like existing Wi-Fi, 802.11ah will provide IP-based connectivity, allowing devices to communicate with a broad range of other hardware.

IoT has provided more smoke than fire thus far – grandiose predictions about the numbers of connected devices are commonplace, but widespread uptake has been relatively limited. The generally accepted reasons for this slower-than-prophesied growth are security concerns and a lack of a unified underpinning technology. HaLow might go some way towards alleviating the latter concern, though that’s still far from certain.


Jon Gold

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