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Enhance your smart home experience with Wi-Fi HaLow access points

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Post Date: 2024-05-20, Wurth Electronics Inc.

With the increasing number of connected devices in every household comes the challenge of managing wireless interference, especially in the 2.4GHz band. According to international professional services firm Deloitte, the average number of connected devices per home in 2022 is 22, and this number is expected to increase as consumers deploy more iot devices in their homes, from wireless sensors to security cameras to smart locks. It is important to ensure that all these connected devices can coexist in a crowded wireless network without problems with connectivity. Now let's learn more about how the new version of Wi-Fi provides longer connectivity distances and the ability to access additional spectrum to mitigate wireless connectivity and interference issues, expand consumer access point capacity, and enable a better smart home experience.

Ideal spectrum region for wireless iot devices

The latest generation of Wi-Fi protocols, such as Wi-Fi 5/ Wi-Fi 6/ Wi-Fi 7, are primarily targeted at high-throughput applications such as gaming and virtual reality. The high-throughput broadband spectrum is located in the 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands. The transmitted power in these bands is generally lower than in the 2.4 GHz band, and the signal and penetration through walls and other obstacles are much lower. Overall home coverage with Wi-Fi 5/ Wi-Fi 6/ Wi-Fi 7 typically requires the use of mesh access points (aps). However, connected devices located outside or outside the house may still have weak or no signal.

Iot devices are often deployed outside buildings or outside, such as security cameras, door locks and window sensors. These iot devices need better signal coverage and penetration, rather than pursuing the highest possible throughput. Indoor iot device locations may have some 2.4 GHz signal coverage, but may not have 5 GHz or 6 GHz signal coverage. The location of outdoor iot devices may have no signal coverage at all. In order to cover both indoor and outdoor, the most desirable part of the spectrum for iot devices is below 1 GHz. Using the sub-GHz band for iot also eases the need for the 2.4GHz band, leaving the 5GHz and 6GHz bands for high-throughput, short-range devices.

Greater signal penetration

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving seamless coverage of indoor and outdoor smart homes is the problem of dead ends caused by walls and other physical obstacles. Smart homes must have reliable wireless networks to support remote applications such as sprinkler systems, security cameras, video doorbells and outdoor entertainment devices. However, certain areas inside or around the house (such as garages, attics, or courtyards) are often poorly connected due to physical obstacles.

As a sub-GHz protocol, Wi-Fi HaLow essentially overcomes these limitations. Wireless devices operating in the sub-GHz band can reach the boundaries of large homes and yards and penetrate physical barriers that block standard Wi-Fi signals. Because sub-GHz signals can penetrate walls, floors, and other obstacles more efficiently than high-frequency signals, Wi-Fi HaLow can reduce the cost and complexity of deploying iot devices in your home, which might otherwise require range extenders, mesh networks, or additional access points.

Extended signal coverage

One of the most significant benefits of Wi-Fi HaLow is extended signal coverage, which allows devices deployed in garages, front or backyards, or even on rooftops to easily reach access points and smart home ecosystems. As people deploy iot devices in far-flung locations inside and outside the home, it is also often in places where high-frequency signals cannot be covered. For example, traditional Wi-Fi access points may not be able to cover smart outdoor devices like cameras, weather sensors, and sprinkler systems. However, the Wi-Fi HaLow signal can extend over 1 km, well beyond the reach of traditional Wi-Fi and the boundaries of large homes and courtyards, making it an ideal protocol for targeting access points in smart home environments. In addition, Wi-Fi HaLow enables up to 8,191 devices to access the same Wi-Fi access point at the same time, reducing the complexity of large residential iot deployments.

Addressing the challenges of wireless interference

One of the toughest challenges for smart home networks is wireless interference. As the number of wireless devices and different wireless standards in the home continues to increase, so does the potential for wireless interference issues, especially in the crowded 2.4GHz band used by traditional Wi-Fi and other protocols such as Bluetooth, Thread and Zigbee. For example, when end users experience connectivity issues while using a newly installed iot device, they may become frustrated and ask for a return, even if the interference is caused by another device on the network. At the same time, the issue of interference affecting home networks remains unresolved, and the brand reputation of iot device makers could take an unnecessary hit.

Wi-Fi HaLow is an effective solution to the problem of wireless interference for iot devices. In North America, multiple Wi-Fi HaLow access points can be configured for up to 24 non-overlapping 1 MHz channels for low-throughput devices; Or configured as three non-overlapping 8 MHz channels for high-throughput devices such as security cameras; Or configured as a non-overlapping combination of 1 MHz, 2 MHz, 4 MHz and 8 MHz channels for different purposes. This makes Wi-Fi HaLow the ideal connectivity technology for smart home devices and an ideal complement to current generations of Wi-Fi to ease congestion in the 2.4GHz band.

Recently, the Wi-Fi Alliance released the Wi-Fi HaLow Certification, which provides confidence to easily deploy Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow access points and iot products in the home. Moving smart home iot devices such as light bulbs, refrigerators, door locks, sensors, or cameras to the sub-GHz band will provide them with the necessary signal coverage and connectivity, while also preventing these devices from interfering with high-bandwidth applications in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz bands such as TVS, laptops, and mobile phones. In addition, Wi-Fi HaLow offers the latest WPA3 security, which operates in the same way as traditional Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6, but over longer distances and with lower power consumption.

Wi-Fi HaLow addresses iot limitations

Integrating Wi-Fi HaLow technology into modern consumer access points provides a viable solution to some of the challenges that hinder the use of these access points with iot devices deployed in both indoor and outdoor environments. These challenges include limited range, signal interference and network congestion. Access point manufacturers can now choose to design access points with Wi-Fi HaLow capabilities, enabling reliable, seamless connectivity for a wide range of smart home and iot applications without compromising security.

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