Editorial by Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
During the past eighteen months several giant leaps have been made to secure the future of Wi-Fi connectivity for at least the next decade. These include making huge swaths of pristine 6 GHz band available and cementing an even brighter Wi-Fi future with the first draft release of the Wi-Fi 7 standard. We believe Wi-Fi HaLow would complete the perfect Wi-Fi trifecta by delivering scale and powerful economics to the world of IoT.
With 6 GHz (Wi-Fi 6E) and Wi-Fi 7 future of connected human beings certainly belongs to Wi-Fi. But the future of the vast majority of connected things could – and probably should – also fall within the purview of the spectacularly successful Wi-Fi industry.
The solution to addressing enormous number of IoT use cases big and small – we believe – lies in a lesser known Wi-Fi standard called Wi-Fi HaLow (802.11ah). That standard has yet to fulfil its potential. But it arguably lights up a bright hope that a world of massive-scale IoT can finally be realised.
Massively-scalable IoT: It’s for all businesses and industries, everywhere
The world of IoT is multi-faceted and any new massively scalable IoT technology should reach into every corner of any business and everywhere within modern civilisation in general. If you are a retailer you might imagine connecting more than 8,000 IoT ultra-low-power devices – tags, signs, shelf labels, scanners, lights, access control, cameras, you name it – from a single Wi-Fi HaLow access point, perhaps later reaching into the tens of thousands of addressable devices.
For industries, production plants, or even agriculture, thousands of battery operated actuators and sensors can connect reliably to HaLow infrastructure even at a range of more than a kilometer. Other applications include tags and trackers for logistics and even reliable, extended-range connectivity for the smart home inside and out. The list goes on.
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These are all use cases that traditional Wi-Fi – by and large – has either missed or struggles with and for good reason. Wi-Fi HaLow APs using sub-GHz free and unlicensed bands can cover up to 100 times the area of traditional Wi-Fi with devices running on coin-cell batteries for years. Add to this the excellent building-penetration capabilities of sub-GHz radio.
No other family if wireless tech scales better than Wi-Fi
And finally here’s what we believe clinches it for Wi-Fi HaLow: Economics. HaLow may be more than a little unusual compared to the Wi-Fi standards we’ve known and appreciated for many years but HaLow is still very much a Wi-Fi standard – with all the benefits that follow from that simple fact, such as native IP capability, WPA3 security, and more.
And as the Wi-Fi industry crosses the Rubicon of ten billion devices shipped we know that no other family of wireless technology scales better. Scale will eventually drive down the cost of Wi-Fi HaLow IoT connectivity to cents or less per connection. And that will constitute the true IoT revolution.
Wi-Fi HaLow and the underlying IEEE 802.11ah standard has been around for a while but it is only now coming to fruition at the chipset level. Multi-award winning and leading Wi-Fi HaLow platform (chipset) provider Morse Micro now offers a single-chip solution and is ramping up chipset development as well as organisational expansion. The company – headquartered in Sydney, Australia and with offices in China, India, and the US – is right now the largest player in the Wi-Fi HaLow space.
Morse Micro says they are confident that Wi-Fi HaLow will live up to its enormous promise. We believe them. Now we need to make it happen.