WiFi (HaLow) is coming to rescue the IoT (Maybe)

There has been talked about this for awhile but I couldn’t find anything in the forums that discussed it.

The WiFi Alliance announced on January 4th a new form of WiFi called Wi-Fi HaLow which will increase range and and enable low power consumption. It is based on the 802.11ah specification and is geared toward IoT devices. It is not intended to replace current ‘high speed’ specifications but instead would be an add-on to current routers to support home automation devices and wearables. It more likely will compete against Bluetooth but I see HaLow as a more practical solution for end users with some added benefits.

What I found most interesting is the following snip-it from the accouncement:

"Many devices that support Wi-Fi HaLow are expected to operate in 2.4 and 5
GHz as well as 900 MHz, allowing devices to connect with Wi-Fi’s
ecosystem of more than 6.8 billion installed devices. Like all Wi-Fi
devices, Wi-Fi HaLow devices will support IP-based connectivity to
natively connect to the cloud, which will become increasingly important
in reaching the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). Dense
device deployments will also benefit from Wi-Fi HaLow’s ability to
connect thousands of devices to a single access point. "

The full announcement can be found here

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From one analyst, Michael Desjardin:

Here’s The bad news: the Wi-Fi alliance isn’t planning on rolling out haLow certifications until sometime in 2018, and even then, there’s no guarantee it’ll become the de facto standard for smart home connectivity.

So TL,TL does come to mind. If mesh Bluetooth and Thread both roll out in 2017, HaLow’s arriving very late to the party.

Agreed. My thought was that since most homes currently have WiFi and are familiar with the terms and setup procedures this may be an advantage to this catching on if it is ever released. Since it will most likely just be another band most users will end up purchasing this when they upgrade their routers whether they need it or not. That, in my opinion, is a huge benefit to it reaching a larger market share at a faster pace even if it comes into the game late. Even at this stage of the game there is no one standard that has won. It is going to get interesting fast.

  1. HaLow is not backwards compatible to 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, i.e., current WiFi routers on the market do not support HaLow. This means we will need yet another device (either a HaLow router (900MHz only), or a Triband router (2GHz+5GHz 11n/11ac +900MHz HaLow) to talk to HaLow sensors).
  2. The HaLow standard is NOT exclusively geared toward IoT, and is OFDM based, which means the power consumption (think battery life) will be poorer compared to current ZWave/Zigbee/Bluetooth devices.
  3. None of the major semis have announced any plans to support HaLow anytime soon.
    So everyone’s playing a wait and watch game.

So, this standard may not be the knight that saves the IOT …

Halow not expected before 2018. Too late to the party to be successful. This HA IOT thing will be all sorted out before then with only a couple of winners and many losers left out including Halow.


As far as I can tell, HaLow is just another low-power protocol, but this time, it’s brought to you by the people who brought you WiFi. There are already a number of IP-based systems on low-power radios. Too little, too late is right.

There are a lot of reasons that modern protocols beat out X10… most notably that X10 was pretty terrible to begin with.

I just don’t see what HaLow offers. It can’t tap into existing WiFi hardware, it isn’t a mesh network, it isn’t the only low-power option that offers IP, and it doesn’t offer more bandwidth than existing options in the 900MHz band. If I’m building a HA device, or a HA hub, (or even a home router for that matter), do I choose a brand new standard? Or do I go with one of the established radios? Time will tell…

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I don’t disagree with any of your points. I’m sure we all have been using HA for 20 - 25 years, I know I have, but it still hasn’t caught on. Until someone like my mother or next door neighbor embrace it it will only be a novelty. Currently the only people using it are techies and people with money.

But, I’m not talking about users who understand the technology. I’m talking about average users who are going to buy a router anyway and just so happen to have the technology built in and then realize it can be used for HA, wearables, etc. My point is that this a very big marketing opportunity.

Yeah, I agree that WiFi has some serious brand-recognition going for them.

I suppose they also have to explain to consumers that this WiFi is not that WiFi.