Traditional Wi-Fi technology, or IEEE standard 802.11, provides wireless connectivity ideal for short-range applications where the communicating devices are plugged in. However, these are not ideal circumstances for many Internet of Things (IoT) applications that demand both longer signal distances and lower power consumption for battery-operated gadgets.
Two relatively recent versions of the IEEE standard are 802.11ah or HaLow, and 802.11af or White-Fi. Learn more about these standards and how either one of them could be the solution to your next IoT design.
Radio Wave Frequency & Signal Range
An important concept to understand when adopting a wireless standard is that lower-frequency signals travel further than higher-frequency signals. For instance, 802.11ad (WiGig) operates at 60 gigahertz (GHz) for speeds up to 7 Gigabits per second (Gb/s), but with a range limited to about 10 meters. On the other hand, 802.11ac operates in the 2.4- or 5-GHz bands with speeds of more than 1.3 Gb/s and a range of about 100 meters.
If you have an IoT application with a signal distance requirement of 100 meters or greater, and you hope for lower power consumption, you may benefit from adopting the 802.11ah or 802.11af standard.
What Is 802.11ah (HaLow)?
HaLow is a sophisticated wireless technology. While it has yet to be widely adopted, it’s still worth considering for new IoT projects.
- Frequency: 802.11ah uses frequencies below 1 GHz—specifically in the 902 to 928 megahertz (MHz) spectrum—to achieve low power consumption ideal for battery-operated applications.
- Signal distance: Operating on a low frequency means the wireless signal travels further. Most Wi-Fi gear has a maximum range of 100 meters under ideal conditions, but HaLow can connect devices up to 1 km apart with the right antenna.
- Data rate: The 902 to 928 MHz spectrum is divided into 1-, 2-, 4-, 6-, and 16-MHz channels. Data rates of up to 100 kilobits per second (kb/s) are possible in a 1-MHz channel, and up to several hundred Megabits per second (Mb/s) are easily achieved in a 16-MHz channel.
- Power consumption: The primary accomplishment with HaLow is its low power consumption. Shortened contention access procedures and short data packets minimize transmit time and power usage. Typical user stations feature a sleep mode to conserve battery life even further.
What Is 802.11af (White-Fi)?
Also known as Super Wi-Fi, White-Fi is meant for long-range, non-line-of-sight data transmission. Unlike 802.11ah, it isn’t part of the Wi-Fi Alliance family, and few operating networks have been implemented thus far.
- Frequency: White-Fi utilizes the unused TV channels from 54 to 698 MHz.
- Signal distance: The range depends on the frequency. Signals closer to 698 MHz can travel about 3 km, while signals transmitted closer to 54 MHz have even longer ranges.
- Data rate: The 54 to 698 MHz spectrum is divided into 6-, 7-, and 8-MHz channels. A maximum data rate of 24 Mb/s is possible in a 6-MHz channel.
- Power consumption: With a low transmit power of just 100 milliwatts (mW) for mobile user stations and 4 watts (W) for base stations or access points, there’s ample opportunity to use battery-operated equipment communicating over White-Fi.
Gain a Foothold in the Internet of Things
Whether you decide HaLow or White-Fi is best for your IoT application, Corporate Technology Solutions can get your building, facility, or campus set up. Our team is highly trained to ensure your business is up to code and meets your precise needs.
To learn more about our innovative wireless services, please contact Corporate Technology Solutions. We have headquarters in Phoenix and Tucson to serve businesses throughout the Southwest.