Wi-Fi HaLow could be the next IoT enabler

With its low power use and long-range Wi-Fi reach, WiFi HaLow is poised to become the next Wi-Fi protocol that organizations adopt for internal IoT applications. Here's why.

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Image: Wi-Fi Alliance

Wi-Fi HaLow is a low-power, long-range version of standard Wi-Fi that can penetrate through walls and operate on wearable devices. "Wi-Fi HaLow will broadly adopt existing Wi-Fi protocols and deliver many of the benefits that consumers have come to expect from Wi-Fi today, including multi-vendor interoperability, strong government-grade security and easy setup," said Kevin Robinson, senior vice president of marketing for Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit organization that owns the Wi-Fi trademark.

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Because of these and other factors, Wi-Fi HaLow is also likely to be used in education, smart cities, industrial manufacturing and healthcare.

"Wi-Fi HaLow is best suited for applications that require lower power, longer range and robust connectivity, even in challenging environments--including sensors, personal wearable devices, utility meters and streaming compressed video from security cameras," Robinson said.

Immediate device candidates for Wi-Fi HaLow are security cameras and tablets that are being used in industrial environments.

Wi-Fi HaLow-enabled devices are also expected to play significant roles in smart home environments that allow consumers to take advantage of its longer range and lower power for applications such as battery-powered cameras, video baby monitors and other smart home products.

In these respects, Wi-Fi HaLow is a well suited complementary technology for Wi-Fi 6, an internal Wi-Fi protocol that is already deployed in many schools and that would likely be extended for use in commercial, industrial and residential Internet of Things applications that require fast data rates and low latency inside the four walls of facilities.

"Wi-Fi HaLow applications that make sense as use cases include AR/VR, home security systems with high-resolution feeds and remote surgery," Robinson said.

SEE: Communities in need get a boost from Wi-Fi 6 technology (TechRepublic)

Implementing Wi-Fi HaLow in industry makes sense because it expands the range of Wi-Fi applications in IoT and enables Wi-Fi to be an even more dominant player in the industrial and smart home markets. 

"Companies have been working on Wi-Fi HaLow chipsets for years, and we expect shipments to break 10 million in 2022, with adoption expanding from industrial applications to the smart home, smart city and retail markets," Robinson said.

Is Wi-Fi HaLow on most companies' IoT roadmaps?

The Wi-Fi Alliance just announced its certification program for products that incorporate Wi-Fi HaLow in November, 2021. This means that we are still some time away from widespread Wi-Fi HaLow adoption and deployment since products must first be certified.

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Where does this place IT decision-makers who already have an abundance of IoT technology issues to consider?

  1. It's time to place Wi-Fi HaLow on technology roadmaps because it will expand the range of possible IoT use cases that can occur within the four walls of an enterprise.
  2. It's not too early to talk to IoT device vendors about their certification plans for Wi-Fi HaLow.
  3. Security is always a concern with IoT, but the good news with Wi-Fi HaLow is that it must support the latest, WPA3 security, which will add strong security protections to IoT networks. 
  4. Internal network environments will need to be revised for Wi-Fi HaLow, but since Wi-Fi HaLow is backward-compatible with older Wi-Fi protocols, this makes the job easier. 

"Wi-Fi HaLow is an open standard, providing for more efficient installation without the need for proprietary controllers, hubs or gateways," Robinson said. "A Wi-Fi HaLow network can be deployed in the presence of existing Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 networks without interfering with their RF performance and can easily become part of the complete Wi-Fi portfolio. In this way, Wi-Fi HaLow delivers a more comprehensive approach to connectivity and broadens current Wi-Fi coverage to hard-to-reach places such as garages, basements, attics, warehouses, factories and large outdoor areas."

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