Recently recognized and named by the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi HaLow addresses the technology gaps revealed by the rapid growth in the IoT. By meeting the IoT's demands for long-range connectivity and low power consumption, HaLow may prove to be a dominant wi-fi technology over the near and long term. This articles looks at some of the ways that Wi-Fi HaLow brings a revolution to IoT connectivity and technology.
Wi-Fi HaLow is a recently certified wireless connectivity technology that operates in the 900 MHz unlicensed bands for industrial, medical, and scientific use to extend its Wi-Fi range. Most people recognize the traditional wi-fi of 2.4 GHz or 5GHz. While they work well, the radio waves don't travel as far as waves at lower frequencies. At 2.4 GHz, for example, the waves can travel just around 800 feet. A low-power wide area network (LPWAN) can reach 1 to 10 km. Also, interior walls and doors can block higher frequency waves.
Wi-Fi HaLow expands the more extended range operations to cover from 1 MHZ to 16MHz channels. The 1 MHz channel waves travel further, and the 16MHz channel provides much higher transmission rates of up to 80 Mbps. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi HaLow's versatility allows it to work well with small wearable devices and large-scale industrial uses - and a great deal between - for solid and reliable performance. Moreover, it easily adopts existing protocols and can deliver much that consumers already expect from Wi-Fi, including strong security, easy setup, and multi-vendor capability. The Wi-Fi Alliance expects that HaLow will find great uses in the smart home and a smart building and meet the unique requirements of smart cities.
Wi-Fi HaLow does have the downside that its regional variations may not always be compatible with one another. The United States uses the 902-928 MHz frequency bands, while China, Europe, Japan, Korea, and Singapore all use different bands. In other words, a device that works in Singapore will likely not work in the United States, and vice versa.
Traditional Wi-Fi operates on narrower bands and has less than one-quarter of the Wi-Fi capacity for addressable stations per access point of Wi-Fi HaLow. Similarly, traditional Wi-Fi offers four channel-width choices while HaLow provides as many as 16. Nonetheless, it remains ideal for high-speed downloads and streaming movies. Like the bionic man, Wi-Fi HaLow is smarter, faster, and better for distance and low power consumption operations.
Wi-Fi Halow is generally better for most applications than traditional wi-fi. However, it is not usually suitable for high-speed streaming applications like watching videos and rapid file downloads. Where HaLow does come out ahead is listed below.
WI-fi HaLow is, basically, a Wi-Fi version that uses less power, has a more extended range, and is more versatile than traditional WiFi. HaLow combines energy efficiency, long-range connectivity, HD video-quality data rates, low latency, robust security features, and native IP support. This combination makes it ideal for an IoT device. Wi-Fi HaLow also allows adopters to avoid the congestion and distance limitations of traditional wi-fi.
Traditional Wi-Fi offers a range generally less than 100 meters, while HaLow's is over a kilometer. In other words, it has ten times the range, covers 100 times the area, and at 1000 times greater volume. There is some concern that these longer ranges may encourage attacks from longer distances, with devices some distance away able to hack your devices. Even more significant problem is that everyone could become vulnerable to long-distance hackers in a smart community environment.
Wi-Fi HaLow applications can run on batteries for years without requiring replacement. Its low power requirements make it ideal for the IoT by enabling long-lasting batteries to be installed in devices that may not be touched for extended periods.
A single access point in WiFi HaLow can service four times the number of devices as a traditional wi-fi access point. This capacity for 8,191 devices from a single access point is one of the hallmarks of HaLow's usefulness in industrial applications and smart cities.
HaLow can be used in smart industrial settings, office and residential buildings, warehouses, medical devices, and various other remote monitoring applications. Its great distances and speed will provide IoT connections simply unavailable at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.It will improve smart homes, smart cities, digital health care, WiFi-connected motor vehicles, and various automation uses. HaLow is also useful for retail labels, signs, scanners, and surveillance systems.
Various sensors and the virtually ubiquitous wearable devices are among those most in need of what HaLow offers. Likewise, security cameras, trail cameras, and utility meters, all devices with infrequent human contact needed, will do very well in a high distance, low power situation.
In the meantime, traditional WiFi can continue supporting high-speed applications like video streaming. Alas, HaLow is not suitable for streaming videos. Now certified by the Wi-Fi Alliances, Wi-Fi HaLow has an exciting future in the world of smart and connected technology. With Wi-Fi serving as the essential commodity in the connected world, this kind of significant improvement may prove to be a real disruptor.