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Wi-Fi Halow: optimized connectivity for IoTs

Groupe_887Jul. 21, 2020

HaLow can you hear me? You may be asking yourself, Brian have you lost your mind? it’s hello can you hear me. No, I actually mean HaLow can you hear me? Let me explain.

Did you know that more than half of all internet traffic transmitted is over wireless? Wireless technologies are so ubiquitous that Wi-Fi permeates all factions of our lives; personal or professional. We have wearable technology that we use for fitness, we have sensors, gateways, mobile devices, laptops, watches , appliances etc. All industries rely on Wi-Fi from automotive manufacturers, agriculture, education, government, transportation and everything in between. HaLow can you hear me? All of these industries rely on IoT to share data, streamline, automate, and simplify processes, and add to our daily convenience and simplify our lives all while providing useful data.

According to McKinsey & Company IoT growth is expected to increase to 43 billion connected devices by 2023. If we are going to connect all these devices we need an efficient protocol that can connect many devices at once and can be heard for long distances.

HaLow can you hear me? I can hear you HaLow.

HaLow refers to a wireless IEEE open-standard protocol 802.11ah. From a technical standpoint, HaLow uses narrow sub 1GHz band which means it’s better to penetrate tough areas where 2.4GHz and definitely 5GHz signals were not able because the signal was being absorbed and unable to connect devices. The sub 1GHz band varies by country just as some channels in 802.11ax/ac/n/a/b/g. Each regulatory domain supports its own channels. The “United States currently uses 902 MHz to 928 MHz. Australia and New Zealand use 915 MHz to 928 MHz. Europe provides 7 MHz of spectrum split among the 800 MHz band and 900 MHz bands.” Furthermore the 802.11ah standard allows for channel widths of 1,2,4, 8 and 16 MHz.

HaLow also is capable of connecting numerous IoT devices to a single SSID, specifically 8,191 devices. As if that’s not enough. All this at lower power than other wireless or LAN/WAN technologies. This makes this Wi-Fi Alliance technology very energy efficient. Because of this energy efficiency, the smaller IoT batteries could last years without the need to replace. 802.11ah Target Wake Time also extends battery life.

Additionally, some of the 802.11ah features are the similar to the features of Wi-Fi 6, such as Target-Wake-Time, (TWT), BSS Coloring and WPA3 security.

Let’s get a little refresher on TWT, BSS Coloring and WPA3.

Target Wake Time (TWT) – Client devices are able to negotiate a TWT contract with the AP. This allows the device to sleep for long time periods. The AP maintains any traffic destined for the client until the agreed upon wake time is reached. Once the wake time is reached the client device wakes and listens for its beacon and then engages the AP to receive and transmit any data required before returning to its sleep state. The agreed upon wake time can be rather short periods, or years depending on the device.

BSS Coloring – The Basic Service Set “color” gets assigned to each AP or each BSS on an AP. The coloring is not really a color but a number indicator that essentially tells a client device with the same “color” to carefully listen to the transmissions in the same color indicator. Which also means, ignore transmissions from other Basic Service Sets. The whole point of this is to increase capacity and reduce overhead contention for the medium.

WPA3 Security – This is the latest Wi-Fi security that includes authenticated 192-bit security code as well as Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE) which reduces some of the risk in open Wi-Fi networks.

HaLow can you hear me? HaLow’s narrow signals can be heard from 1km! This makes it an excellent choice for connecting IoT devices in Smart Farm applications. A single access point is able to support devices over 775 acres. The sensors are used for ventilation, livestock health and irrigation. It also has great applications for Smart Cites. Often times it’s difficult to perform over- the- air firmware updates because of bandwidth limitations of IoT protocols. HaLow solves this issue by supporting up to 86.7 Mbps. HaLow and BLE are the only two IoT protocols that support OTA firmware updates.

HaLow also natively supports TCP/IP for full integration with existing networks. This eliminates the need for any proprietary gateways, conversion appliances, or controllers. The protocol even supports IPv6 and OFDM over BPSK,QPSK AND 16/64/256 QAM, IPv4. Not to mention, since this protocol operates in sub 1 GHz, there is no contention and noise.

HaLow we hear you loud and clear.