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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.

In terms of data messaging, she stresses that companies need to figure out what format the data will move in, allowing it to best connect to the analytic, data warehousing, and data brokering systems of their organization and of their partners. Examples in this category are HTTP and MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) protocol.

When it comes to data models, she says, "Data from the IoT comes in many formats and measurements, and being able to consume and digest this data is the crux of value in the IoT environment. Early work on normalizing data taxonomies and models is being done within groups like the Haystack Project."

6. Is HaLow late to the party?

According to Groopman, the main Wi-fi HaLow issue today is time. The Wi-Fi Alliance won’t begin certifying HaLow products until 2018. That's an eternity in the world of technological innovation. Meanwhile, the race for lower power connectivity charges on, with new players (and investments by legacy players) surfacing every day.

Also, the imperative to 'connect, connect, connect' has left the current Wi-Fi client market with some cultural issues; most notably around inconsistent application of strong, widely-adopted security standards, among other configuration challenges.

Ratliff adds that while low-power IoT is still in its early days, HaLow is already years behind its competitors. Meanwhile, existing low-power standards have time to establish defendable positions in rapidly advancing markets, such as the smart home.


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