In 1985 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made the decision to open, what were considered, “garbage bands” of wireless spectrum (900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz) to allow them to be used for communication purposes. This small swath of unlicensed radio frequencies were already allocated to ISM equipment that used radio-frequency energy for purposes other than communication such as microwave ovens that use radio waves to heat food.

Soon after, industry-wide standards were adopted to provide universal interoperability.  Since their introduction, the Wi-Fi industry has continued to develop at a breakneck pace making the technology once only imaginable in sci-fi movies and video games, now ubiquitous.

For Wi-Fi devices, a Wi-Fi Alliance Certification not only ensures that certified devices work with one another, but ensures that devices meet rigorous requirements to demonstrate the proper interoperability, security, and latest in Wi-Fi technology.

The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ mark is an internationally-recognized seal of approval for Wi-Fi products indicating that a product has met industry-agreed standards for interoperability, security, and a range of application specific protocols. One of the latest in today’s newest generation of Wi-Fi to be released is Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ 802.11ah, also referred to as HaLow.

What is Wi-Fi 802.11ah HaLow?

Based on IEEE 802.11ah, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 802.11ah or HaLow, extends Wi-Fi into the 900 MHz band where most Wi-Fi lives at 2.4GHz or 5GHz. With Wi-Fi HaLow operating in frequency bands below one gigahertz, it offers much longer range and lower power connectivity to Wi-Fi products. Lower frequency radio waves propagate better over distance and are better at traveling through obstacles like doors, walls, and other obstructions.

This ability to operate using very low power, penetrate through walls, and operate at significantly longer ranges than what is typically utilized in Wi-Fi today opens the door for Wi-Fi’s application to extend into a variety of uses such as Smart Home, connected car, digital healthcare, as well as industrial, retail, agriculture, and Smart City environments.

Wi-Fi 802.11ah HaLow in today’s applications

Wi-Fi HaLow’s range is nearly twice that of today’s Wi-Fi and is not only capable of transmitting signals further but also provides a more robust connection in challenging environments where the ability to penetrate walls or other barriers, is an important consideration.

A key benefit of 802.11ah is its extended range that makes it useful for rural communications and offloading cell phone tower traffic. In terms of scalable distance, your current modern Wi-Fi connection can span about the length of a football field without being obstructed. Wi-Fi HaLow spans the better part of a mile.

Its low power consumption is due to its intermittent transmission of “short, bursty” data that allows sensors of IoT devices to be powered on for only a short period of time, thus conserving power and producing elongated battery life. Wi-Fi HaLow has the potential to deliver many of the benefits that consumers have come to expect from Wi-Fi today as wireless technology and IoT continue to grow.

MET Labs is a Wi-Fi Alliance® Authorized Test Laboratory (ATL) providing testing services compliant with the Wi-Fi Alliance® test plans as well as pre-certification and certification testing for 802.11 wireless devices. MET Labs has over 15 years of wireless testing experience, with capabilities ranging the full spectrum from standard FCC & CE compliance to sophisticated cutting-edge programs like Wi-Fi and ZigBee. As a pioneer in telecom equipment testing, MET’s testing of telecommunications equipment began long before the first IEEE 802.11 committee was formed.


Learn more on Wi-Fi Alliance certification in our free webinar April 13, 2017. Click here to learn more.

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