Next-generation Wi-Fi smart home devices can come with over 1 mile range


Ry Crist / CNET

With a promise of wall-penetrating range exceeding 1 kilometer, the Wi-Fi Alliance this month announced certification for Wi-Fi HaLow, a new feature that supports long-range, low-energy Wi-Fi transmissions on the sub-1GHz spectrum. The feature is aimed directly at gadgets for smart homes, where the number of cloud-connected devices worldwide is expected to increase to more than 30 billion by 2025 – more than double the 13.8 billion Internet of Things devices in use Today.

This is good news for intelligent home sensors, security cameras and industrial or agricultural IoT gadgets, says Wi-Fi Alliance President and CEO Edgar Figueroa – and good news for Wi-Fi, especially as new standards such as Amazonas fortov and Fabric try to strengthen the relevance in the category of smart homes.

“Wi-Fi Certified HaLow further expands Wi-Fi’s leading role in IoT to address a new range of secure and interoperable utilities that require longer range and lower power,” Figueroa said in a statement. “There are growing opportunities to streamline connectivity in the growing IoT market, and Wi-Fi HaLow builds on a universally trusted Wi-Fi foundation to pave the way for new IoT applications for the benefit of homes, businesses and industries.”

Wi-Fi Alliance

Wi-Fi HaLow’s claims of longer range and lower power consumption stem from the fact that it sends signals at frequencies below 1GHz, which is much lower than the 2.4 and 5GHz bands most home networks use to bring devices online. While higher frequencies are better at moving mass volumes of data, lower frequencies provide much better range, making the sub-1GHz spectrum a seemingly good fit for sensors and other devices that may need to send tiny bits of data over a Wi-Fi network at a great distance.

In addition, Wi-Fi HaLow could be a boon to battery life, with the Wi-Fi Alliance promising “low-power connectivity required for applications, including sensors, personal portable devices, and supply meters that require multi-year battery operation.”

Wi-Fi HaLow uses existing Wi-Fi protocols to deliver many of the benefits that consumers have come to expect from Wi-Fi, including multi-vendor interoperability, strong WPA3 security, easy setup and seamless IP integration network, “writes Wi-Fi. -Fi Alliance adds in its press release announcing HaLow’s certification.

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HaLow is not the only new wireless standard that promises a big boost to range. There is also the Amazon Sidewalk, a low-power IoT network launched earlier this year and which relies on a combination of low energy Bluetooth and LoRa signals. In that case, devices need their own LoRa radios to take advantage of the long distance connections.

With Wi-Fi HaLow, devices only need a standardized Wi-Fi chipset that supports the protocol, and they should be coming soon. Analysts note that Wi-Fi HaLow devices are already up and running in the industrial sector – and they expect adoption to spread rapidly through residential and commercial environments by 2022.

“Wi-Fi HaLow devices such as security cameras and tablets are being used in industrial environments today, and we expect that devices will soon find their way into smart home environments, enabling consumers to take advantage of its longer range and lower power to applications. like battery-powered cameras, video baby monitors and other smart home products, “said Phil Solis, research director at IDC. “Companies have been working on Wi-Fi HaLow chipsets for years, and we expect shipments to break 10 million by 2022, with adoption expanding from industrial to include smart home, smart city and retail markets.”

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