The Wi-Fi Alliance announced that it approved a new wireless technology standard called the 802.11ah. The devices supporting it will work on the 900MHz band and will have twice the range of devices working on the 2.4GHz band. The new standard is meant to be used in smart homes, connected cars, digital healthcare, as well as in agricultural, industrial and smart city environments.
In the past few years, the Wi-Fi Alliance approved the 802.11ac standard, which provides roughly 1Gbps bandwidth over the 5GHz band, as well as the more recent 802.11ad, which has even higher multi-Gbps bandwidth, but works over a much shorter range on the 60GHz band.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has been focusing on improving bandwidth performance at the cost of range and lower obstacle penetration. However, with the new 802.11ah standard, codenamed "HaLow" (made up of the "ah" letters and the "low" word from low-power), the Wi-Fi Alliance wants to extend the range of its wireless technology and lower the power consumption for the embedded devices that will end up using it.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the 900MHz band will allow the new wireless technology to not only have double the range of the current Wi-Fi standards, but it will also be able to penetrate walls and other obstacles more reliably.
The advantage of Wi-Fi HaLow over competing wireless standards will be that it's developed by a recognized consortium (the Wi-Fi Alliance), which has already created and promoted other wireless technologies that have become ubiquitous. In other words, there is a higher chance most router and device makers will implement this wireless technology instead of competing alternatives, or at least alongside them. The Wi-Fi Alliance must hope to once again dominate the embedded devices market where technologies such as Bluetooth and Thread/ZigBee are trying to gain a foothold right now.
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. You can follow him at @lucian_armasu.