The difference between WiFi HaLow and traditional WiFi
When we talk about wireless network connections, we find that WiFi has become an indispensable part of our daily lives, carrying more than half of the internet traffic and being widely used in various settings such as homes, schools, and entertainment venues. However, despite the prevalence of protocols like WiFi 4, WiFi 5, and WiFi 6, with the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), there is a need to reconsider the limitations of traditional WiFi in meeting these emerging demands.
Emerging commercial IoT models place higher demands on remote connections and low power consumption. This demand has driven the need for a new WiFi protocol, known as WiFi HaLow, sometimes pronounced as "HEY-low."
The WiFi HaLow protocol was initially approved by the IEEE 802.11ah task group in 2016 and was named WiFi HaLow by the WiFi Alliance. It is a low-power, long-range, and more versatile version of WiFi. By filling in the technological gaps in WiFi, WiFi HaLow is designed to meet the specific requirements of IoT devices.
Compared to traditional WiFi, WiFi HaLow has many significant differences：
Highly scalable solution：
A single WiFi HaLow Access Point (AP) can address up to 8191 devices, more than four times that of a traditional WiFi AP. In the foreseeable future, WiFi HaLow is capable of connecting every LED bulb, light switch, smart door lock, motorized curtain, thermostat, smoke detector, solar panel, security camera, or any imaginable smart home device. While a typical home WiFi router generally supports dozens of devices, when deployed in homes by broadband service providers, a single WiFi HaLow AP can serve as a scalable platform for additional security and utility management devices and services. Multiple signaling options reduce the overhead required for managing and controlling a large number of HaLow devices, minimizing signal conflicts and releasing radio waves for active devices to transmit more data at the fastest possible MCS rates. Like traditional WiFi, HaLow can automatically adjust bandwidth based on signal integrity and distance from the AP. The star topology of WiFi HaLow, along with its excellent penetration, extensive coverage, and vast capacity, liberates connectivity from the complexities and bandwidth constraints of mesh networks. This simplifies network installation, significantly reducing overall deployment costs.
Low Power Consumption：
WiFi HaLow requires much lower power compared to traditional WiFi. While traditional WiFi can use wide bands in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz frequency ranges for fast transmission of high-definition video content and downloading large documents, these WiFi connections have a limited effective range and quickly deplete battery power. This often necessitates frequent recharging or battery replacement. However, WiFi HaLow prioritizes energy efficiency by employing low-power technologies and various complex sleep modes specified by the IEEE 802.11ah standard. These features allow HaLow devices to operate for extended periods in extremely low-power states, conserving battery energy. This enables IoT devices to work for longer durations, making WiFi HaLow a better choice for energy-constrained IoT devices.
Broader Coverage Range：
The 802.11 standard covers a very wide frequency range, from sub-GHz to millimeter-wave (mmWave). Wi-Fi HaLow is the first Wi-Fi standard to operate in the license-exempt sub-GHz frequency band. It provides data rates ranging from a few hundred kb/s to several tens of Mb/s, with transmission distances extending from tens of meters to over one kilometer.
In comparison to the narrowest 20MHz channels used by traditional Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi HaLow's sub-1 GHz signals employ even narrower channels, ranging from 1MHz to narrower widths. Due to lower thermal noise in the channels, this 20x bandwidth reduction translates to a 13 dB improvement in link budget. In contrast to traditional 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, the RF frequencies between 750 MHz and 950 MHz require an additional 8 dB to 9 dB of link budget, thereby saving on free-space transmission losses. Additionally, the Wi-Fi HaLow protocol introduces a range-optimized modulation and coding scheme (MCS10), offering an additional 3 dB improvement in link budget.
In summary, compared to traditional 2.4GHz IEEE 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4), Wi-Fi HaLow provides up to a 24dB improvement in link budget. When compared to the higher frequency and wider bandwidth 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) and 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6/6E) protocols, Wi-Fi HaLow's link budget advantage is further enhanced, especially considering its use of the wider 5GHz and 6GHz spectra. This explains why the transmission distance of Wi-Fi HaLow signals is ten times that of traditional Wi-Fi without the need for network extenders.
WiFi HaLow provides robust security features. It is an inherently secure wireless protocol that supports the latest WiFi authentication requirements (WPA3) and Over-The-Air (OTA) AES encryption, allowing secure OTA firmware upgrades with its data rates. Additionally, it supports native IP, meaning it can communicate directly with the internet, making it easier for IoT devices to connect to cloud services.
In conclusion, WiFi HaLow, as a protocol designed for IoT devices, provides an ideal solution for the growing demands of the Internet of Things. Its features such as low power consumption, extended coverage range, enhanced versatility, and robust security make it well-suited for diverse IoT applications. I believe that as the Internet of Things continues to evolve, WiFi HaLow is poised to become the preferred wireless technology for connecting various smart devices in the future. At this moment of technological transformation, as experts in the field of wireless communication, at QOGRISYS, we have deep-rooted experience in the WiFi industry and are committed to staying at the forefront of societal changes. By embracing continuous innovation and adopting the latest WiFi HaLow technology, we aim to keep pace with the evolving needs of emerging IoT business models, bringing greater benefits to our society and economy.