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OPLIN 4cast #478: Wi-Fi with a HaLow

Posted in 4cast

Wi-Fi snailMany of our previous posts on this blog about Wi-Fi have concentrated on new ways to make Wi-Fi faster. Now let’s talk about new ways to make your Wi-Fi slower. Why would you want slower Wi-Fi? As it happens, a particular type of new Wi-Fi standard designed to work well with Internet of Things (IoT) devices is slower, but also requires less power and can pass through walls more easily than regular Wi-Fi. That may be important if you are planning to deploy battery-powered sensors in various corners around the library and connect them to your network. Such sensors typically don’t need a fast connection.

  • WiFi HaLow is promising but complicated (Network Computing | Lee Badman)  “Named HaLow by the Wi-Fi Alliance, 802.11ah works in 900 Mhz. This frequency might sound odd to the uninitiated, but the original 802.11 standard actually allowed for 900 MHz and Infrared, though neither really went very far because they are both quite slow by comparison to what can be done in the higher bands for WLAN applications. So, HaLow is slower, and works in a somewhat exotic frequency.”
  • 802.11ah WiFi will penetrate walls more easily and use less power (Geek | Lee Mathews)  “Way down at 900MHz, though, things like walls, floors, and doors won’t be as much of a problem. According to the WiFi Alliance, 802.11ah will also achieve nearly double the range of current standards. There’s another bonus, too. Because the signal doesn’t degrade as much when it passes through objects, devices don’t consume as much power while sending and receiving data.”
  • HaLow is the natural next step in the evolution of IoT (TechCrunch | Jim Hunter)  “HaLow promises to optimize battery life in 900 MHz-connected devices not tethered to real power supplies. Other technologies have promised the same in the past, with mixed results, so I am cautiously optimistic that the work being done by the Wi-Fi Alliance and IEEE with 802.11ah will become widely adopted as the key communication standard.”
  • IoT’s sub-GHz 802.11ah Wi-Fi will be dead on arrival, warn analysts (The Register | Shaun Nichols)  “Unfortunately, says ABI [Research], it already faces increased competition from other low-power wireless data standards. And there are technical issues, most notably compatibility problems. While previous Wi-Fi standards (such as 802.11n and 802.11ac) have been backwards compatible with older devices and access points, using an 802.11ah device will also require purchasing an 802.11ah access point. In short, you can’t use a new .11ah product with your current 802.11n home router.”

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