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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > New 802.11ah Wi-Fi protocol unveiled, utilizes 900MHz for long range

New 802.11ah Wi-Fi protocol unveiled, utilizes 900MHz for long range
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Jan 4, 2016, 12:34 PM
As part of the CES today, the controlling body for the Wi-FI standard, the Wi-Fi Alliance, announced the Wi-Fi HaLow designation for products incorporating the new IEEE 802.11ah technology. Wi-Fi HaLow operates in frequency bands below one gigahertz, with the Alliance claiming that the standard offers longer range and lower power connectivity over previous versions of the technology.

The new technology will be utilized in a variety of new power-efficient use cases in the Smart Home, connected car, and digital healthcare markets, as well as see use in industrial, retail, agriculture, and Smart City environments.

"Wi-Fi HaLow is well suited to meet the unique needs of the Smart Home, Smart City, and industrial markets because of its ability to operate using very low power, penetrate through walls, and operate at significantly longer ranges than Wi-Fi today," said Edgar Figueroa, President and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. "Wi-Fi HaLow expands the unmatched versatility of Wi-Fi to enable applications from small, battery-operated wearable devices to large-scale industrial facility deployments – and everything in between."

Wi-Fi HaLow extends Wi-Fi into the 900 MHz band, giving it range nearly twice that of existing Wi-Fi. Additionally, the Alliance says that the protocol will not only be capable of transmitting signals further, but also providing a more robust connection in challenging environments where the ability to more easily penetrate walls or other barriers is an important consideration.

Many devices that support Wi-Fi HaLow are expected to operate in 2.4 and 5 GHz as well as 900 MHz. Wi-Fi HaLow devices will support IP-based connectivity to natively connect to the cloud. Properly implemented, thousands of devices can be connected to a single Wi-Fi HaLow access point. 802.11ah will not completely supplant 802.11ac or other protocols, as it is a lower bit rate stream.

The first devices utilizing 802.11 HaLow are being announced at the CES trade show this week. Wide implementation isn't expected until 2017.
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Jan 4, 2016, 01:02 PM
So everything old is new again? I thought we got away from 802.11 900 MHz Wireless because too many other items interfered with it; cordless phones, baby monitors, microwave ovens, etc.? Are they assuming that all of those things moved into the higher parts of the spectrum? Will people still want it once they see the "blazing" data rates it can provide?
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Jan 4, 2016, 01:09 PM
Do I want some hacker halfway around the world to turn off my refrigerator, spoiling all my food? Not really. In fact, I have trouble imaging many uses around my home for this overhyped Internet of Things. If I want to adjust my thermostat, getting up and walking to it, all of eight steps, makes more sense than using an app. That said, the added range of 900 MHz would be helpful. It'd probably reach a 100 yards or so into the woods next to my house. Added range for commercial and medical uses has a downside though. It'd making hacking easier. There's an advantage to knowing a WiFi signal isn't going to get much beyond an ICU. And its terrorist/hackers messing with IV pumps and the like that's really scary.
Author of Untangling Tolkien and Chesterton on War and Peace
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Jan 4, 2016, 02:22 PM
Extending 900 MHz into consumer routers is going to cause a mess of intereference - 2.4GHz is already basically shot in apartment/multi-tenant building situations. How do you think that'll play in the 900MHz spectrum, where physical isolation is even less?

They (Big Cable) are already messing up 5GHz too by locking in / hogging 80MHz channels on consumer routers with no ability to reduce that - all in the name of adverstising the "fastest" speeds.
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Jan 4, 2016, 02:55 PM
"If I want to adjust my thermostat, getting up and walking to it, all of eight steps, makes more sense than using an app." That is eerily EXACTLY like what people said about changing the channel on a TV before the remote was invented. Well done!
Charles Martin
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