How the IoT is Affecting Wi-Fi

October 18, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

In today’s society, Wi-Fi has become something that people now expect to be readily available and depend on to carry out everyday tasks. With the rollout of the Internet of Things (IoT), people will soon become accustomed to having all of their things connected as well. But with all of those connected devices, can Wi-Fi handle an even greater influx of user demand for high-speed connectivity? Here, we’ll take a look at how the IoT is affecting Wi-Fi.

 

When it comes to connectivity requirements, each IoT application can have a different set of range, data throughput and energy efficiency needs. Some IoT devices only need small, intermittent data transfers, such as utility meters. While some need a constant stream of data, such as live surveillance cameras. Also, range can differentiate from very short for wearables, to spanning miles for weather and agricultural sensor applications. But there are two things that are constants for all IoT applications: the need for remote power and constant connectivity.

 

To fulfill this need, Wi-Fi is the obvious choice because Wi-Fi coverage is so widespread, but standard Wi-Fi is not always the best choice for IoT applications. Thus, there are several standards that have emerged from the need for IoT connectivity. These include LoRaWAN, multiple short range communications standards and new Wi-Fi standards such as HaLow (802.11ah) and HEW (802.11ax).

 

The 802.11ah standard was introduced to address the range and power needs of the IoT. It utilizes the 900 MHz frequency band to provide extended range, covering a one kilometer radius, lower power requirements, wake/sleep periods and station grouping options.

 

The 802.11ax standard also includes the wake/sleep and station grouping features, and has a MU-MIMO feature that allows up to 18 users to simultaneously send data within a 40 MHz channel when paired with the smaller subcarrier spacing. Internet service providers and technology startups have also begun developing an application layer that includes mesh networks that use sets of routers to work together and extend wireless coverage, and provisioning tactics that define how wireless devices connect to networks.

 

There is some fear that the IoT could essentially break Wi-Fi, but there seems to be plenty of development activity focused around finding solutions to Wi-Fi congestion before it becomes a problem. With all of the IoT devices expected to be connecting in the near future, there will likely be a significant shift in Wi-Fi practices and standards, but as with everything in the world of technology, being able to pivot and reconfigure is the name of the game.

 

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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