Wi-Fi Alliance introduces Wi-Fi HaLow technology for Internet of Things

The Wi-Fi Alliance is using CES to unveil its new low-power, long-range Wi-Fi, called HaLow, for the Internet of Things. HaLow is the name the alliance is designating for products incorporating IEEE 802.11ah technology.

Wi-Fi HaLow operates in frequency bands below 1 GHz, offering longer range, lower power to Wi-Fi certified products. The alliance says Wi-Fi HaLow will enable a variety of new power-efficient use cases in the smart home, connected car and digital healthcare, as well as industrial, retail, agriculture and smart city environments.

Wi-Fi HaLow actually extends Wi-Fi into the 900 MHz band, enabling low-power connectivity for applications that include sensors. Its range is nearly twice what Wi-Fi is today. Many devices will be tri-band, with access points in the home having 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 900 MHz functionality, providing connectivity throughout a property, according to Kevin Robinson, vice president of marketing at the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The certification program for HaLow is targeted for 2018, but a lot of products are likely in the not-too-distant future, he told FierceWirelessTech. Many vendors already are working on integrating the technology into their products in anticipation of certification.

On one end, products will use HaLow for very low-power, short-range communications, like wearables, and on the other end, you'll see higher-power, significantly longer-range than Wi-Fi today, he said. It also has the ability to penetrate walls, which is a problem for other technologies.

"2016 is going to be a pretty big year for us," Robinson said. Part of what's driving the momentum is continued advancements in core Wi-Fi technologies, he added.

Like all Wi-Fi devices, Wi-Fi HaLow devices will support IP-based connectivity to natively connect to the cloud.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has been steadily increasing its attention on IoT. In September, the alliance introduced the Implementer membership category to include companies that do not specialize in developing connectivity technologies but want to deliver connected products with certified interoperability and security protections in categories such as the smart home and IoT.

Implementer members may include in their products unmodified Wi-Fi modules or systems certified by other Wi-Fi Alliance members, and those products may use the Wi-Fi Certified logo and be listed in the Wi-Fi Certified Product Finder. However, Implementer members are not eligible to contribute to the development of Wi-Fi technology, marketing and regulatory programs.

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