No sooner have we all managed to upgrade our wireless routers and access points to 802.11ac than we need to start thinking about the next new wireless protocol. 802.11ah and and extension of that protocol, dubbed Wi-Fi HaLow, are likely to drive the next round of wireless upgrades at our offices and homes.
HaLow, which we can expect to be certified next year, will slip into small devices. It’s basically WiFi for the IoT. The IEEE is saying it will do everything that Bluetooth does today, but over a longer range and direct Internet connectivity as it will be able to connect devices directly to routers instead of being dependent on smartphones and other intermediary devices.
802.11ah will behave similarly to the 802.11 wireless standards we’ve been accustomed to over the last decade or so. But it will operate at a new frequency range in the sub-1Ghz licence-free spectrum and deliver connectivity over a longer range.
So that’s another hardware update as it uses all-new radios and receivers.
All this is good news insofar as we can expect better connectivity over greater distances but if you’re planning a wireless upgrade later this year, it might be worth holding out to see how the dust settles. You don’t want to get caught updating gear now only to find something better is available in less than a year’s time.