In November 2021, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow certification program for 802.11ah Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Wi-Fi HaLow uses the sub-1 GHz band to provide long-range, low-power robust connectivity with the ability to support thousands of devices per Access Point (AP).
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Wi-Fi HaLow Targets Low-Power, Long-Range IoT Connectivity
In November 2021, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow certification program for 802.11ah Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Wi-Fi HaLow uses the sub-1 GHz band to provide long-range, low-power robust connectivity with the ability to support thousands of devices per Access Point (AP). The long-range connectivity the sub-1 GHz band supports, such as within the agriculture or logistics markets, delivers data over one kilometer of distance without the need for mesh or repeaters and uses multivendor interoperability, WPA3 security, easy setup, and seamless Internet Protocol (IP) network integration without interference from existing Wi-Fi networks. Some of the many applications—such as streaming video from security cameras in challenging environments that include walls and other barriers (such as garages, basements, attics, warehouses, factories, and large outdoor areas)—can be supported by Wi-Fi HaLow.
Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow to Enable New Use Cases
This certification will enable new power-efficient commercial IoT, industrial IoT, residential IoT, industrial IoT, retail, agriculture, healthcare, smart home, and smart city use cases in devices such as sensors, wearables, augmented reality/virtual reality, security systems, medical equipment, and utility meters. It will also enable new secure and interoperable use cases that require long range and low power and increase the Wi-Fi portfolio to provide a full range of Wi-Fi capabilities. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Easy Connect also can be used to improve the process of connecting devices to a network—particularly useful when IoT devices with little-to-no user interface are involved, enabling devices to onboard seamlessly and instantly. Companies that provide interoperability test-bed devices for the first Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow products include Methods2Business, Morse Micro, and Newracom. Morse Micro recently released its first Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow chipset and module solutions that support 1 MHz, 2 MHz, 4 MHz, and 8 MHz channels.
The major use cases that Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow is targeting include:
- Home and Building Automation: Wi-Fi HaLow enables low-power applications, such as door locks, cameras, appliances, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, with support for coin cell battery devices with months or years of battery life.
- Logistics and Transportation: Wi-Fi HaLow’s sub-1 GHz frequency improves planning and efficiency within the movement of goods among suppliers, factories, warehouses, and points of sale, penetrating throughout shipping materials to reach APs within trucks or warehouses.
- Agriculture: One Wi-Fi HaLow AP extends over a one-kilometer radius for 8,000 devices, enabling sensors and APs to care for crops and livestock in all areas with support for coin cell batteries that can stay in the field for years to measure environmental and health conditions.
- Smart Cities: Wi-Fi HaLow enables ease of use and long-distance connectivity with traffic monitors benefiting from the input of video cameras without cables and traffic lights being centrally controlled to manage traffic flow.
- Industrial Automation: Wi-Fi HaLow connects sensors, devices, and actuators spread over large distances within factories and refineries with WPA3 security and native IPv6 support to protect important communications.
What Certification Means for the Future of Wi-Fi HaLow
Several companies have been involved with the development of Wi-Fi HaLow products and solutions, including Adapt-IP, ALFA Network, Methods2Business, Morse Micro, Newracom, Palma Ceia SemiDesign, and Silex Technology. While the technology has been around for several years, the hope is that the certification program will give the technology a much-needed boost in adoption and that the growing chipset portfolio will help to accelerate adoption within key IoT segments. Following the recent certification, it is expected that the activities and portfolios of these companies will expand, enabling more devices to take advantage of the low-power, long-range connectivity. ABI Research forecasts that annual Wi-Fi HaLow chipset shipments will increase from 7.6 million in 2021 to 86 million in 2026, achieving a compound annual growth rate of 62%.
This certification will improve the offerings within Wi-Fi HaLow, ensuring that solutions meet the interoperability, security, and application-specific protocol standards. It will also allow products to be thoroughly tested before reaching the market to guarantee that they work as required and are interoperable with other Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow equipment. This will ensure that the devices function as expected and that end users have access to the low-power, long-range connectivity that the protocol provides while working with other solutions and accessing high-quality security.
Despite the certification, Wi-Fi HaLow will find itself competing with a number of well-established technologies—such as Bluetooth Low Energy, Zigbee, Thread, Wi-Fi 6, low-power wide-area networks, proprietary sub-1 GHz, and cellular technologies—across a number of different applications. These technologies have already gained momentum within the IoT market; enormous amounts of development and solutions will allow a large competitive market to be developed that will be difficult for Wi-Fi HaLow to take over. In addition, market-leading Wi-Fi companies have not yet invested time or money on developing Wi-Fi HaLow solutions, and it is unlikely, even with the certification, that they will migrate their efforts to the technology. However, Wi-Fi HaLow has a number of unique capabilities that set it aside from the competition, and the certification program should help to build a more solid ecosystem of Wi-Fi HaLow solutions that have been sorely needed. The growing HaLow market will likely be dominated by specialist chipset providers that focus most—if not all—of their efforts on Wi-Fi HaLow, ensuring that IoT devices can utilize the low-power, long-range solution across numerous markets.