2021 Wi-Fi HaLow Progress Report for IoT Sensors and Designs

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Wi-Fi HaLow, highly anticipated for years for its promise to reinvent Wi-Fi for the Internet of Things (IoT), is finally seeing some traction by the end of 2021. Much of that ascent may be attributed to Wi-Fi Alliance’s announcement of HaLow CERTIFIED Wi-Fi in November 2021.

Wi-Fi HaLow—the Wi-Fi Alliance designation for products based on the IEEE 802.11ah standard—operates in sub-1 GHz spectra to provide longer range and lower-power connectivity. It enables a wide range of IoT use cases in agricultural, industrial, smart building and smart city environments.

Just before the Christmas holidays, Korean chip developer Newracom unveiled its design collaboration with Canadian IoT solution provider Deviceworx Technologies to create HaLow Wi-Fi enabled IoT sensor solutions that comply with the IEEE 802.11ah standard. Deviceworx will integrate Newracom’s HaLow Wi-Fi SoC NRC7292 in its industrial IoT gateway for Wi-Fi HaLow access point (AP) functionality.

Deviceworx is also developing xTag HaLow IoT sensors using the HaLow NRC7292 Wi-Fi SoC. The xTAG HaLow vibration, environment, ventilation (C02), and gas sensors will be able to connect to the cloud through a single HaLow gateway, simplifying the installation of IoT systems and reducing infrastructure and operating costs.

Figure 1 Battery-powered xTAG HaLow sensors last for years, avoiding costly sensor redeployments. Source: Deviceworx

Earlier, in November 2021, Morse Micro unveiled a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow platform based on an 8 MHz reference design. The Sydney, Australia-based company specializes in easy-to-use chips, modules and evaluation kits for HaLow Wi-Fi designs. His MM6108 and MM6104 The SoCs provide a single-chip HaLow Wi-Fi solution integrating radio, PHY, and MAC while delivering data rates ranging from tens of Mbps to hundreds of Kbps at the farthest range.

Morse Micro is an official supplier of HaLow Wi-Fi test benches. In March 2021, silicon solution developer HaLow partnered with LitePoint, a wireless test solution provider, to standardize the design verification of its HaLow Wi-Fi chips on LitePoint’s test. IQxel-MW Platform.

Starting energy

Palma Ceia SemiDesign (PCS), formerly RF contract designer, has launched a HaLow reference design based on the IEEE 802.11ah specification. The reference design, which includes all necessary hardware and software components, allows developers to prototype and field test Wi-Fi HaLow compliant connectivity systems.

It’s ironic that while the main push for Wi-Fi HaLow technology comes from startups, the wireless standard was launched with significant help from Qualcomm engineers in 2014. Wi-Fi Alliance officially announced the standard at CES 2016 .

HaLow Wi-Fi will operate in the 900MHz band to link IoT devices over a longer range, and starting a new unlicensed ISM usually takes time. For example, the 5 MHz band took almost 10 years to become widespread. Yet IoT sensor applications are desperate for Wi-Fi support with more bandwidth and longer range.

Figure 2 The sub-GHz ISM bands of Wi-Fi HaLow operate between 850 MHz and 950 MHz. Source: Newracom

LoRa and Sigfox offer lower data rates, and IoT-centric LTE standards such as Cat-M and narrowband IoT consume more power when integrated into cellular setups. In addition to higher throughput, HaLow’s ability to communicate over long distances – over 1km outdoors – and superior hardware penetration using sub-gigahertz frequency results in easier deployment of IoT in large industrial and commercial spaces such as warehouses, refineries, mines, hospitals, schools, and military bases.

It’s no surprise, then, that a lot of startup energy is now behind Wi-Fi HaLow technology, which bodes well for the technology’s prospects. While 2021 ends on an optimistic note for HaLow Wi-Fi technology, 2022 will really decide if the time for this long-range Wi-Fi variant is really right.

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