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New WiFi HaLow standard offers double the range, lower power consumption

The Internet of Things requires low power consumption and long range, and HaLow delivers both.

Published onJanuary 4, 2016

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The Internet of Things requires low power consumption and long range, and HaLow delivers both.

Announced today by WiFi Alliance, HaLow (pronounced “halo”) is an extension of the upcoming 802.11ah WiFi standard designed for the millions of smart devices that are expected to invade our lives in the following years.

WiFi HaLow will operate in the 900MHz band, which is unlicensed spectrum. Because it works at frequencies below 1GHz, HaLow needs less power to transmit data and can do it over longer ranges. WiFi Alliance says HaLow has double the maximum range of 802.11ac, and that it can reach 1 kilometer (3,300 ft.) in certain conditions.

HaLow has double the maximum range of 802.11ac

WiFi HaLow is designed for use cases where low power and long range are more important than high data throughput. Compatible devices will initially be certified for speeds varying from just 150Kbps up to 18Mbps.

Thanks to the properties of the spectrum range it operates in, WiFi HaLow can penetrate concrete walls and other obstacles that greatly reduce the range of devices using current standards.

Like Bluetooth LE, WiFi HaLow is primarily designed to accommodate battery-powered devices. Everything from smartwatches, to security cameras, various sensors, smart appliances, and cars will be able to use HaLow to connect to central hubs, that can, in turn, link to the cloud through higher capacity connections.

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Access points supporting HaLow’s 900 MHz bands will probably also support 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, making it easy to connect everything from laptops to wearables or even implantable devices. Applications could go further than IoT though – WiFi connectivity is a major battery drain, so this new low-power standard could improve battery life on smartphones and many other type of devices.

The first HaLow certified devices will ship from 2018, according to WiFi Alliance.

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