By Dennis Jones
A few weeks back, a consumer offering surprisingly didn’t generate the biggest headlines coming out of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Instead, it was the global certification body in wireless, the Wi-Fi Alliance, which set the tradeshow abuzz by announcing the much-awaited approval of its newest Wi-Fi standard, dubbed Wi-Fi HaLow (pronounced halo). Making the CES the appropriate venue for the Alliance’s year-commencing announcement is the fact that the new, low-powered Wi-Fi standard will be instrumental for the viability of the IoT (Internet of Things) and connected home devices.
While some already predict that HaLow will become the low-power Wi-Fi solution the consumer world so desperately needs, it’s important to know a few crucial things about the potentially, game-changing technology.
In what band will HaLow operate? And why is that important?
HaLow will work in the 900 MHz unlicensed band, meaning that Wi-Fi will now operate in three distinct bands: 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and now 900 MHz. The 900 MHz band is supposed to be ideal for long distances and is especially good at penetrating walls – baby monitors, among other wireless devices, currently occupy this band.
Will HaLow reduce the power consumption traditionally associated with Wi-Fi?
Yes, big-time. The industry is particularly excited about this fact, because current Wi-Fi standards aren’t hugely conducive to long battery life in smart devices. In fact, that’s been one of the main hurdles to widespread deployment of the IoT.
When will this announcement make a difference to consumers?
Well, if you’re looking for an immediate glut of HaLow devices on the market, you’ll be disappointed. The Wi-Fi Alliance will only begin certifying HaLow products in 2018, after which time the technology will need to make its way into routers, then devices.
Does the unveiling of HaLow mean that the Wi-Fi Alliance has finally turned its attention to the IoT?
The Wi-Fi Alliance has actually been concentrating on the IoT for some time. Last September, for instance, the Wi-Fi Alliance introduced a new Implementer membership category for companies producing connected devices. Those devices may now use the Wi-Fi Certified logo and be listed in the Wi-Fi Certified Product Finder.