Could 802.11ah be the internet of things savior?
The WiFi Alliance has recently approved a new standard, 802.11ah also known as “HaLow”. This could very well could be the saving grace the internet of things has been waiting for. HaLow would operate in an unlicensed 900MHz band, allowing it to get double the range of 2.4GHz standards with less power. This is key for the internet of things and all connected home devices. The problem has been that devices like door sensors, connected lights and cameras need to have enough power to carry across long distances and penetrate walls to remote hubs or routers. The current standard just can’t do this efficiently.
Let's break down how a radio frequency works. We know that the lower the Hz’s the more penetration and distance we can achieve. However, as with most things there are trade off’s, and in this case, it’s that there are more mechanical noises in this range. This is why we slowly gave way to higher spectrums like 2.4GHz and 5GHz with our WiFi routers and home phones. While noise is a problem for sending larger packets of data, maybe it’s not a concern with the internet of things which just transmits smaller packets, turning things on and off.
Because of these limitations to our current standard many companies having moved over to Bluetooth instead of WiFi or even mixing the two. The problem with using Bluetooth even low energy Bluetooth is there is not enough bandwidth. One would think it would be enough, but when dealing with home automation, security should be a factor and as such taking a piece of data that is wrapped in high level encryption is pushing it’s limitation of bandwidth causing terrible lag that no one likes. This is one of the main reason’s Apple’s own HomeKit development and adoption has been at a crawl until recently.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple was one of the early adopters of this standard and rolled it into its devices. Like the Apple watch which uses 2.4GHz but normally depends on a Bluetooth tether. Removing the dependency on Bluetooth and increasing battery life is exactly the kind of thing Apple focus’s on.
There has been no indication of who will be the first to grab the new 802.11ah standard and run with it, But we have our eyes open.
How do you think "HaLow" will impact our everyday life? Let us know down in the comments.