HaLow Wi-Fi for the IoT

April 13, 2017 at 8:00 AM


The Internet of Things (IoT) might have found a saving grace for keeping all of those “things” connected. HaLow Wi-Fi, pronounced like halo (hay-low), is coming to scene with a list of virtues p

erfect for smart homes, smart cars, smart cities, and even healthcare, industrial, retail and agriculture.


Generally, we’re used to Wi-Fi aiming to achieve lightning fast speeds with the ability to move large amounts of data.  But with IoT devices, there’s no need for super-speeds and the amount of data being transmitted is typically small.  The real need of the IoT is for devices to remain connected wherever they are without dwindling power supplies or depending on cellular data. 


HaLow Wi-Fi is slated to offer double the coverage range of traditional Wi-Fi while lowering power consumption. This would not only set it apart from other Wi-Fi standards, but also make it ideal for many IoT applications. Thus, the Wi-Fi Alliance is hoping HaLow will replace cellular networks in smart cities and Bluetooth radios in wearable devices.


HaLow is an extension of the IEEE 802.11ah standard and uses the 900 MHz bandwidth instead of the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands. The 900 MHz band is a low-frequency workhorse usually reserved for microwaves ovens and baby monitors. By using this robust frequency for Wi-Fi, the signal is able to reach further and penetrate objects and obstacles without dwindling the device’s power supply – many of which run solely on batteries.


Reported data rates for Halow are between 150 kilobits and 18 megabits per second. This is significantly less than traditional Wi-Fi rates, but speed is not the focus in this case. For the IoT,  power consumption, reliability and distance are the priority. The HaLow standard will be official next year and might be exactly the  divine intervention needed for the IoT.


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Cliffs Notes: Industrial Wireless Network Frequencies

September 8, 2016 at 8:00 AM


Today’s industrial wireless networks use multiple frequencies in order to support a variety of applications. In a single industrial setting there may be two, three or more frequencies being used since each offers unique capabilities.


If you’re trying to decide which frequency would be best for your industrial wireless application, we’re here to help. We’re going old school with a CliffsNotes-style review to sum it all up for you.




There are three ISM wireless frequency bands: 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The most popular frequencies used in industrial networks are the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz bands. Many industrial facilities have such diversified needs and processes that their wireless network uses multiple frequencies. For example, let’s say there’s an oil refinery using a remote monitoring system, a security system and high speed Wi-Fi in the central control office – this situation may require the use of all three frequency bands.


Facilities such as oil refineries, wastewater treatment plants and manufacturing operations may have wireless systems that utilize lower bandwidth communications. Simpler tasks like opening a valve or relaying temperature readings from a tank require less bandwidth. In this instance, the 900 MHz frequency band is often used because it allows for longer distance, more reliable transmissions and better penetration of obstructions. This frequency is ideal when remote monitoring of facilities requires a longer reach.


These facilities may also use video security systems which are very common in industrial installations. Most security systems use IP cameras which can be wired with cables or may be connected via wireless links. Wireless IP camera networks require higher bandwidth to send video and/or audio. In this case, 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi networks are the best bet. Using an 802.11g/n network provides security systems the speed they need with transmission rates of up to 300 Mbps.


5 GHz is not as commonly used as the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequencies in industrial networks. It has the shortest range but offers very high bandwidth which can be overkill for many industrial communication applications.  Often 5 GHz systems are used as a backhaul link to connect two 2.4 GHz systems.


Study Guide


Here is a handy chart to give you an overview of the ISM band frequencies and how they are used in industrial wireless networks:


No matter which frequency best suits your needs, L-com has all of the products to build your industrial wireless network including antennas, amplifiers, splitters/filters and access points


For more information on industrial wireless networks, check out our blog post 5 Things You Need To Know About Industrial Wireless.


Comments on this post? Other topics you’d like us to cover? Email us at engineeringhub@l-com.com


Wireless Frequencies: The CliffsNotes Version

April 28, 2016 at 8:00 AM


Wireless antennas operate at different frequencies to best suit different wireless applications.  In order for the system to work properly, the antenna frequency must match the frequency of the amplifier, access point or router to which it will be attached.

If you’re trying to decipher what each wireless frequency does and/or which one would be best for your wireless application, we’re here to help. We’re taking you back to school and in true CliffsNotes-style we’ll sum it all up in an easy to read package. 




The cast of characters is simple: 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands.


The FCC has allocated these three frequencies for unlicensed Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) applications. Because they don’t require licensing, these frequencies have played a pivotal role in the growth of the wireless industry.

In the US, the 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless frequency bands are used for consumer and commercial Wi-Fi and WLAN applications, as well as commercial Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) applications. 


Study Guide


Each frequency band has a different purpose and its own set of characteristics – some good, some bad. Here is a handy chart to give you an overview of each frequency.



Now you should be able to choose the best frequency for your wireless application and you’re sure to pass any pop-quiz on wireless frequencies - you can even print out this chart and tape it inside your Trapper Keeper.


For a detailed look at the frequency allocations of entire radio spectrum, download the United States Frequency Allocations Chart.


Pros and Cons of the ISM Band Frequencies

November 26, 2015 at 8:00 AM


900, 2,400, 5,000 – these are not factors in an algebraic algorithm.  These are the unlicensed frequency bands that have helped propel the growth of the wireless industry.


In the US, the 900, 2,400 and 5,000 MHz frequency bands are set aside by the FCC for unlicensed Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) applications. Each ISM band frequency is allocated for a different purpose. They are used for consumer and commercial Wi-Fi and WLAN applications as well as commercial Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) applications.


Here, we take a closer look at the pros and cons of each frequency.


900 MHz

What the 900 MHz band lacks in bandwidth, it makes up for in distance. This frequency is very narrow which limits its maximum data rates, though it is able to penetrate obstructions such as tree and leaves in the Line-of-Sight (LOS).


The 900 MHz band is commonly used by applications such as SCADA and RFID which have lower data rate requirements than applications found in the 2.4-5 GHz frequency bands. The type of data packet usually sent in these applications is a simple on/off command to a motor or a valve, for instance.


The 900 MHz frequency surpasses other bandwidths with its ability to penetrate obstructions such as trees and leaves in the Line-of-Sight.  For example, the 2.4 GHz band is absorbed by water found in trees and leaves which causes path loss of the transmission. Thus, 900 MHz is often used for Non-Line-Of-Sight (NLOS) applications.


2.4 GHz

2.4 GHz is the frequency of choice for the home user and commercial businesses. It is the primary band used for cordless phones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, printers, keyboards and gaming controller applications. Voice, video and data communications are typically used in 2.4 GHz systems requiring higher data rates of up to 300 Mbps for 802.11n applications.


As the most widely used frequency, the 2 .4 GHz band can become overcrowded. When excessive overcrowding occurs, Wi-Fi network signal may be weak or not work at all. In some cases, it's best to connect 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi networks using backhaul links on the less crowded 5 GHz frequency.


5 GHz

The 5 GHz frequency is often used in commercial Wi-Fi applications. It is also the frequency used for the emerging 802.11ac standard which will provide up to 1.3 Gbps of wireless data throughput.  802.11n can also use the 5 GHz frequency. On the flip side, this super-speed band has the shortest range of all three ISM frequency options.


There you have it, the good and the bad of each ISM frequency.  Now you know all the factors to consider when choosing the best band for your application.




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900 MHz Is Your NLOS Friend

November 12, 2015 at 8:00 AM


Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) applications can be difficult to overcome when designing a wireless network. Trees, buildings and other obstructions can be formidable foes when trying to establish a point-to-point or point-to-multipoint wireless link. Able to break through most obstacles, 900MHz is the ideal ally when dealing with NLOS situations.

Of the unlicensed ISM frequencies used in the United States, 900 MHz is the perfect choice for NLOS wireless networks. Unlike the very popular 2.4 GHz frequency band, 900 MHz wireless transmissions are not absorbed by leaves and trees that contain water. This makes 900 MHz the ideal solution for dealing with trees and other foliage in the line of site.


900MHz signals can travel up to 1,500 feet through obstructions such as trees and buildings.  For indoor wireless NLOS applications, some higher powered 900 MHz radios can penetrate up to 10 walls!


Despite all of its benefits, the 900 MHz frequency does have some drawbacks and limitations including:


- A limited amount of unlicensed bandwidth in the 900 MHz spectrum (only 26 MHz). If there are a lot of other devices in close range, using the same spectrum range, excessive "noise" from nearby devices could adversely affect signal quality


- 900 MHz supports lower data rates than the 2.4 and 5 GHz ISM frequency bands, in most cases only 1 to 1.5 Mbps maximum

- In most countries outside of the United States, 900MHz is not open for unlicensed use


When planning a wireless network without clear line-of-sight, for any application that involves NLOS conditions and lower data rates, 900 MHz may be your best bet.


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