Wi-Fi Alliance introduces 802.11ah ‘HaLow’ standard with almost double current range

With the growing Internet of Things connected devices there was a need for a Wi-Fi standard for connecting all the smart things in your home 24 x 7 to the Internet. However, companies making these connected gadgets have been reluctant to use Wi-Fi. That’s because Wi-Fi requires a lot of power, and that’s a huge problem for any device that needs to be tiny, cheap, and able to run on a single charge for months or even years at a time.

A new Wi-Fi standard — officially dubbed 802.11ah “HaLow” by the Wi-Fi Alliance — could potentially improve the practicality of home automation platforms, including Apple’s HomeKit.

The group behind Wi-Fi says that Wi-Fi HaLow (pronounced “halo”) can travel farther and even do a better job of traveling through walls. Basically, it’s an all around better option for smart home and IoT devices, at least if these claims hold up.

The new type of Wi-Fi is being called Wi-Fi HaLow and will be an extension of the upcoming 802.11ah standard. The Wi-Fi Alliance intends to begin certifying HaLow products sometime in 2018, but the first of them may begin shipping shortly before then.

HaLow devices will operate on the unlicensed 900 megahertz band, which is said to offer almost twice the range of standard 2.4 gigahertz Wi-Fi connections, according to the Alliance. The group is a coalition of companies that works to establish Wi-Fi standards.

Essentially, this is Wi-Fi’s answer to Bluetooth. HaLow is supposed to end up inside of fitness trackers, home sensors, security cameras, and an assortment of other single-purpose home gadgets. “HaLow will provide similar characteristics in terms to battery life to technologies that are out there today,” says Kevin Robinson, the alliance’s marketing VP.

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