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New WiFi standard offers more range for less power

The WiFi Alliance's 900MHz 'HaLow' standard is aimed at connected home devices.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
January 4, 2016
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The WiFi Alliance has finally approved the eagerly-anticipated 802.11ah WiFi standard and dubbed it "HaLow." Approved devices will operate in the unlicensed 900MHz band, which has double the range of the current 2.4GHz standard, uses less power and provides better wall penetration. The standard is seen as a key for the internet of things and connected home devices, which haven't exactly set the world on fire so far. The problem has been that gadgets like door sensors, connected bulbs and cameras need to have enough power to send data long distances to remote hubs or routers. However, the current WiFi standard doesn't lend itself to long battery life and transmission distances.

The WiFi Alliance said that HaLow will "broadly adopt existing WiFi protocols," like IP connectivity, meaning devices will have regular WiFi-grade security and interoperability. It added that many new products, like routers, will also operate in the regular 2.4 and 5GHz bands. That should open the floodgates to a lot of new 900Mhz-enabled devices in the near future, and not just smart toasters. The group said that the new standard "will enable a variety of new power-efficient use cases in the smart home, connected car ... as well as industrial, retail, agriculture and smart city environments." How about just a better WiFi connection from the spare room?

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