Is your “smart” home blocked by network traffic? There is still hope. Wi-Fi Halow provides secure and reliable connections for all your connected devices. Consumers have embraced the concept of relying on convenient, connected devices to automate functions in their homes. Gone are the days of manually setting your thermostat or setting your lights on a mechanical timer. Now, these features can be controlled from anywhere via a smartphone app or even through artificial intelligence in the cloud. Broadband service connections provide homes with ample bandwidth and low latency, but good wireless connections between modems and devices have proven elusive.
Is Wi-Fi the answer?
Wi-Fi is the final link that ties everything together. Manufacturers are scrambling to meet demand for connected appliances, security systems, door locks, switches, lights, garage door openers and virtual assistant speakers. By providing homeowners with new conveniences and capabilities while collecting analytics and expanding diagnostic capabilities, manufacturers have found ways to offset the additional manufacturing and maintenance costs of connected devices. Consumers believe that device manufacturers use a safe and reliable architecture to deploy and maintain their services.
However, some common issues plague various usage scenarios of these connected products. Traditional Wi-Fi connections suffer from high power consumption, dead spots, and poor coverage due to different home building technologies and building materials. Additionally, the 2.4GHz and 5GHz RF spectrum is crowded, deployment/setup procedures are complex, and hackers exploit security vulnerabilities. Consumer expectations for simple, reliable and secure connections have prompted manufacturers to cobble together a suite of proprietary wireless technologies that are expensive to install.
Consumers are forced to use proprietary wireless hub devices running on Zigbee, Z-wave, Bluetooth and other non-standard RF technologies and connect them to Wi-Fi routers. They come to believe that batteries or AC power need to be replaced frequently. They are forced to use network extenders for devices that are far away from the router. In the absence of better remote solutions, manufacturers have relied on battery-hungry cellphone technology that charges constant subscription fees and unpredictable data usage. Hackers exploited security holes in weakly protected authentication protocols on devices that did not have OTA update capabilities to combat new threats.
Wi-Fi HaLow Advantages
IEEE 802.11ah Wi-Fi HaLow™ is a technology that solves problems faced by existing wireless solutions using a scalable industry standard. It is built for the specific needs of IoT devices. Wi-Fi halo features longer range, lower power consumption, better penetration of building materials, ample bandwidth, improved network capacity, ease of deployment and installation, lifecycle security, over-the-air (OTA) updates and low Material costs. Let’s examine these requirements individually:
Sub-1GHz Wi-Fi HaLow frequencies, using narrow 1MHz channels, can travel up to ten times farther than traditional Wi-Fi without the need for network extenders. Battery-operated cameras can be placed in more convenient locations where they are needed, outside the walls of your home or garage. Lighting systems can be controlled by an AP, regardless of whether the lighting equipment is indoors or outdoors. Providing customers with a solution that can reach 100 million meters without the need for additional extenders or cellular data plans is a huge competitive advantage.
Wi-Fi HaLow requires less power than traditional Wi-Fi to reach greater distances while providing adequate two-way data transmission. IEEE 802.11ah specifies various new sleep modes that allow devices to remain in a very low power state for extended periods of time, thereby conserving battery energy.
3. Battery consumption
Wi-Fi HaLow can be powered by a simple coin cell battery and consumes less than 10uW on average. With such low power consumption, HaLow can be used in devices that have historically had to rely on Zigbee, Bluetooth or proprietary technologies.
4. Penetration rate
The benefits of Wi-Fi HaLow through buildings will reduce the customer service calls and product returns that plague regular Wi-Fi based products. The lower frequencies used by Wi-Fi HaLow penetrate a variety of building materials better than 2.4GHz and 5GHz while consuming less power. Wi-Fi HaLow uses OFDM modulation to correct for reflections and multipath environments. Whether the device manufacturer's product is placed indoors or outdoors, or in a basement or attic, it can ensure reliable HaLow connection to the AP. This eliminates the added complexity and cost of providing dedicated hub or bridge equipment to compensate for the various home architectures of consumers around the world.
Similar to traditional Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi HaLow automatically scales bandwidth based on signal integrity and distance from the AP. These predefined Modulation and Coding Scheme (MCS) levels support bandwidths from 150Kbps to 40Mbps for single-stream, single-antenna (1×1) products using channel widths between 1, 2, 4 and 8MHz, using the optional 16MHz Wide channel with capabilities up to 80Mbps. Automatic selection of the most appropriate MCS rate ensures fast data transfer.
This is important because faster data transfers use less battery power and the less time devices need to be on the radio waves, leaving them free for use by other devices.
IEEE 802.11ah includes the latest Wi-Fi certification requirements (WPA2/WPA3) and AES encryption of over-the-air traffic.
A single Wi-Fi HaLow AP can address up to 8191 devices. This capacity should be enough to cover all light bulbs, door locks, shades, thermostats, and every conceivable future smart home device.
Reliable and connected choice
A typical home Wi-Fi router only supports a few dozen devices. If deployed into homes by a broadband service provider, Wi-Fi HaLow APs can become a platform to generate additional revenue by subscribing to security and utility management equipment and services for one or more homes in the neighborhood. HaLow is a star network topology and does not suffer from the capacity issues of mesh networks. In mesh networks, the radio spectrum becomes crowded and the same messages are sent repeatedly.