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Wi-Fi Advanced

802.11ah

IEEE 802.11ah is a new PHY and MAC design that operates in the sub-one-gigahertz (900MHz) band. 11ah is intended to support extended range WiFi, and the Internet-of-everything (IoE). The 11ah PHY and MAC are optimized from the ground up for extended range, power efficiency, and scalable operation. The new 11ah design enhances link-budget compared to 2.4GHz technologies. 11ah supports mandatory and globally interoperable 1 and 2 MHz bandwidth modes which open up new use cases for WiFi: IoE, home automation, smart grid, wearable consumer electronics, low-power sensors, etc. 11ah also supports 4, 8, and 16 MHz bandwidths for higher-data rate applications (e.g. in the US where 26MHz is available in 900 MHz band). 11ah extends the range of WiFi beyond the limited range of 2.4 and 5 GHz by leveraging the improved propagation and penetration of 900MHz radio waves through walls and obstructions. With 11ah, WiFi coverage improves in previously hard to reach places such as garages, back yards, attics, buildings, factories, malls, etc.

A single 11ah AP can provide whole home coverage. It can also support low cost battery powered sensors operating without a power amplifier and which use interoperable 1&2 MHz bandwidth modes. A 150 Kbps minimum data rate results in short on-time for sensors with short bursty data packets thus lowering their power consumption. Overall power is also reduced by using lower power MAC protocols such as smaller frame formats, sensor traffic priority, and beaconless paging mode. 11ah MAC is also optimized to scale to thousands of nodes by using efficient paging and scheduled transmissions. 11ah leverages the WiFi ecosystem & IP network for easy setup & pairing to AP/mobiles. 11ah devices are interoperable across vendors.

11ah is being standardized in IEEE with a draft 2.0 version expected in mid-2014. Qualcomm’s WiFi Advanced, along with other participants have been leading these standardization efforts.