back to article IoT's sub-GHz 802.11ah Wi-Fi will be dead on arrival, warn analysts

The new 802.11ah Wi-Fi standard has yet to hit the market in full, and some fear it never will. Analysts at ABI Research predict that by 2020, four years after the first devices are scheduled to arrive, 802.11ah support will only ship in about 11 million devices annually. This slow growth means manufacturers will either have …

  1. channel extended

    Now is the time

    To open up and say .ah.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now is the time


    2. Mage Silver badge


      Only available in USA, I think, It's Mobile Licensed in Europe. (Was GSM and migrating to 3G and 4G).

      Europe has a narrow channel 864 MHz approx (there are 2MHz guard bands either side, it used to be in gap between TV and GSM-R, now its a guard band between TX and RX on two mobile bands).

      864-868 MHz is for Short Range Devices in Europe as alternate to 433MHz SDR. Again USA uses a different channel to 433MHz.

      International standards on for USA are a bad idea, as the gear is made in China and sold everywhere. This stupid.

      Long range can only sensibly used at very low data rate, or point to point or both.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 900MHz

        Agreed… in fact, it's high time that governments accepted the fact that equipment is manufactured and distributed globally and that it makes no financial sense to have incompatible frequency allocations.

        e.g. I am sick and tired of hearing shitty headphones on 147MHz just because some tin-pot country has declared it a LIPD band. Then there's the crap at 433MHz and the nightmare that is 2.4GHz and WIFI channels.

        C'mon ITU, ball's in your court!

  2. SteveK

    But.. but..

    IoT and connected appliances are generally expected to be within the house, yes? So what is it about an estimated range of 1km that makes this so suitable for IoT devices??

    How big are these people's houses? I don't really need to be able to adjust the mood lighting in my living room from the pub down the road.

    1. Commswonk

      Re: But.. but..

      I don't really need to be able to adjust the mood lighting in my living room from the pub down the road. anywhere but the wall of my living room.


      1. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge

        Re: But.. but..

        From the species that gave us the wifi kettle, controlling your mood lighting from anywhere except the fucking lightswitch seems eminently sensible

    2. John Tserkezis

      Re: But.. but..

      "How big are these people's houses? I don't really need to be able to adjust the mood lighting in my living room from the pub down the road."

      Firstly, note that 1km distance specified is ideal under ideal environmental conditions, with no wind, with no walls, with no interference, as long as nobody sneezes... You get the idea.

      Also, regular WiFi won't get from end to end on a typically sized property. At our place, almost to the end doesn't count, I've had to install a wifi bridge to span the entire property.

      .ah would be ideal here - if the price is right of course. Which it won't be, because I'm doing the same thing here with cheapo off-the-shelf bridge wifi devices - right now.

    3. Blank Reg

      Re: But.. but..

      You and the article are only looking at this from a consumer perspective, for industrial or commercial use that added range is often necessary, and there is little issue with having to install new access points. In fact in many cases it will be highly desirable to not be sharing the same frequencies as the kid in the mailroom downloading porn over lunch.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But.. but..

        one industrial application we're currently looking at has an "anything but 2.4GHz" requirement .... New APs not an issue, and a standard with an 802.11 designation stands more chance of management sign-off than others.

        On the other hand - does anyone have practical experience of it? How does it compare with ZigBee (sorry, 802.15.4) and LoRaWan ? Am not that bothered about data transfer rates, 9600 serial is the alternative ...

    4. Fatman

      Re: But.. but..

      <quote>So what is it about an estimated range of 1km that makes this so suitable for IoT devices??</quote>

      A very good real world case:

      A close friend of mine is the manager for an apartment complex spread over 120 acres in multiple buildings.

      Currently either time clocks or photocells control the dusk-dawn security lighting, and the issues BOTH have with keeping the lights in sync are problematic. Old fashioned electric clocks suffer from being out of time sync with real time as well as one another; and photo cells suffer from inaccurate light sensitivity settings. This manifests itself with some buildings being "lit up" while others are dark, resulting time wasted on resident complaints about "non functioning lights".

      Ditto the exact same scenario for the multitude of irrigation system clocks that control the sprinklers through out the complex.

      They have looked at HARDWIRING that whole mess into one main controller, but bailed on the cost of having to trench the entire complex.

      NOW, imagine a series of devices replacing the existing time clocks or photo cells, and the later extended to the irrigation controllers, and

      you have a winner.

      NOW, do you see where the range and lower bit rates could be quite usable?

  3. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Hey, why not just use WiMax. Oh yeah...

  4. Steve Knox
    Paris Hilton


    Will it connect to my '90s cordless phone?

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: 900Mhz?

      Depends what continent you're on. Most mobile phones of the 90s (and earlier) that I know of use a 1.5ish MHz and 49MHz frequency pair. 900 in .UK was pretty much totally cellular

      1. CanadianMacFan

        Re: 900Mhz?

        Cordless phones in North America at least were the ones where the base connected to the telephone jack and you were able to use the handset about the house and yard. They started using 900MHz and then moved to 2.4GHz and then to 5GHz in order to get better call quality and further distance from the base. Having had all three there was a big jump on quality going from 900MHz to 2.4GHz, especially in an apartment building with lots of concrete an re-bar. There was also a noticeable improvement in going from 2.4GHz to 5GHz but not as much.

        So it seems strange that they are talking about going to 900MHz.

  5. Adam 1

    just what we need

    More people to be able to access the horrendously insecure IoT WiFi password blabbing devices from the safety of several streets away from you.

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    I don't see 802.11ah being built into access points (the same ones that provide 2.4/5ghz.) I thought "Hey, nice, an extended range 802.11n". Well, no. This will typically use a 1mhz channel with peak data rate of ~4mbps (and designed to provide 100kbps minimum.) I figure it's in the same boat as Zigbee and Thread, perhaps one will dominate this market, perhaps the whole market will whither on the vine (I don't feel like getting an internet-conected doorbell 8-) or perhaps it will just stay all fragmented and incompatible.

    It's possible it'll end up just staying fragmented and incompatible; if you look at "regular" wireless doorbells and thermometers, they do not follow any standards. There's no expectation of mixing a doorbell button with a different doorbell, or using a outdoor remote thermometer with a even a different model receiver from the same vendor.

    I wouldn't be a bit surprised if you had a "totally IoT tricked out" house (without regard to compatibility) if you didn't need a zigbee network bridge, an 802.11ah bridge, and a Thread bridge (3 seperate receivers plugged into your switch.)

    edit: With all that said, if future APs and clients started showing up with 802.11ah, I wouldn't complain. Getting a mbps or something is a lot better than being in a dead spot and getting zero. 8-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Specifications

      "(I don't feel like getting an internet-conected doorbell 8-) "

      What, with Halloween coming up and everything? Trick or treat, and the trick is the person that rang the bell is a bot?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Specifications

      This will typically use a 1mhz channel with peak data rate of ~4mbps (and designed to provide 100kbps minimum.)

      The minimum is higher than the typical and peak? I'm so confused... and don't think that 0.004 bits per second is very useful at all.

  7. Cuddles

    Pope's toilet habits revealed!

    Standard aimed at useless devices no-one wants that is not compatible with anything else may not be all that popular. Truly an amazing revelation.

  8. Bluto Nash

    Solution looking for a problem?

    "Here! We have this new incompatible-with-everything-you've-got standard that's going to be late to market and have a limited use in pretty much all cases!" It begs the question of "Why?" Just because you've created a standard doesn't necessarily justify deploying it and trying to get market share for what is at first blush a dead hamster on your doorstep from a usefulness perspective.

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Junk drawer chipset?

    Why the worry to combine all of the WiFi protocols into one box? The access point could be a little box with a 10/100 Mbps PoE jack and a simple web interface to set power levels and authentication. The typical "WiFi VPN Firewall Router with dual WAN, dual USB, and 4 port switch" monstrosity is already so complicated that most people don't have them working correctly.

  10. Suricou Raven


    This is a niche product. It's obviously not intended for home use. People with specialised needs will be willing to pay more, and there are plenty of niches for this sort of thing. Large commercial properties - inventory management computers and such. Temporary outdoor events like concerts and festivals that would be able to connect up all their gear with fewer access points.

  11. BSBorden

    Shortsighted Comments

    Zigbee is a disaster & does not allow a device to communicate directly with cloud servers - it requires a custom gateway for every device. Range in a home is bad. Cost is surprisingly high.

    With Espresif CPU+WiFi+Bluetooth parts under $3 qty 1, as soon as this supports HaLow and APs are available, then I would recommend that the whole home/industrial IoT market move as fast as possible to HaLow. Combined APs will cost a few dollars more than those w/o 802.11.ah, and are useful across ALL HaLow devices while being useful for all other WiFi devices at the same time! Win-win. I would have liked to see HaLow 5 years ago, but it is far from too late.

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