Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Hello HaLow: Your guide to the Wi-Fi Alliance’s new IoT spec

JD Sartain | May 24, 2016
The Wi-Fi Alliance recently announced a new IEEE specification, 802.11ah, developed explicitly for the Internet of Things (IoT). Dubbed HaLow (pronounced HAY-Low), it’s aimed at connecting everything in the IoT environment, from smart homes to smart cities to smart cars and any other device that can be connected to a Wi-Fi access point.

Plus, the 900-MHz band is still being used for garage door openers and baby monitors. "This must be addressed as part of home automation solutions and automated vehicle locator (AVL) systems, pagers, and cell phones—depending on the geography—which may affect commercial applications," says Zimmerman.

3. What are some of the standardization issues?

Shamus McGillicuddy, senior network management analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, says there are several standardization efforts emerging around IoT. Many companies and independent consortiums have launched their own standardization efforts for creating network and application protocols designed to facilitate IoT.

"Organizations that are getting into the IoT game will have to follow this standardization race very closely," cautions McGillicuddy. "Some real powerhouse companies are getting involved such as Nest's (Google) Thread protocol, and Qualcomm's AllJoyn. I expect we'll see some consolidation in the IoT standardization world, so that companies aren't duplicating their efforts. The Wi-Fi Alliance will have to demonstrate to the market why HaLow is the superior option for IoT connectivity." 

Michele Pelino
Michele Pelino

Forrester analyst Michele Pelino describes the two major categories of standards initiatives as (1) industry groups focused on building and disseminating use cases and promoting IoT in manufacturing, mining, transport, and other heavy industries (such as the Industrial Internet Consortium); and (2) standards bodies such as IEEE, whose members focus on developing and normalizing the technical connections that the applications and services of the IoT are built on.

And, there are some groups who push for the adoption of particular standards, such as the Zigbee Alliance.

4. What are the opportunities for enterprise Wi-Fi vendors?

"I see HaLow as an opportunity for enterprise Wi-Fi vendors to become bigger players in IoT," says Matthias Machowinski, research director at IHS. "Most Wi-Fi vendors have taken a Wi-Fi-only approach to IoT, which allows them to support the many devices that now have embedded Wi-Fi."

But, Machowinski argues that Wi-Fi is just one of many options, and it isn’t necessarily the best option for low power, low bandwidth, long distance applications, which are common in IoT. By integrating additional wireless technologies directly on the access points, Wi-Fi vendors can build on their success connecting people on enterprise campuses and extend it to IoT applications.

For reference, enterprises bought about 20 million new access points last year, so that’s a large and recurring infrastructure upgrade/build-out that can and should be leveraged for IoT.

5. What should enterprise customers be thinking about?

"The specific standards focus for each company will depend on how these IoT-enabled products and services will connect to and interface with other connected systems and applications," says Pelino. "Three processes that firms should acknowledge and execute are device-to-network connectivity, data messaging, and data models." Pelino identifies device-to-network connectivity (for many embedded products) as the air gap between the remote device and its parent network. That is the first jump to be made. There are various protocols that define radio transmissions, including cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, Zigbee, and Z-Wave.


Previous Page  1  2  3  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.