WiFi fights back in the Internet of Things

WiFi fights back in the Internet of Things

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

With the rise of wireless protocols such as Matter, the WiFi Alliance is highlighting its use for the Internet of Things (IoT). The rise of the latest WiFi 6, 6E and 7 specifications with narrow band frequency allocations is enabling lower power and lower latency for IoT applications.

“WiFi has been delivering the ‘internet’ in Internet of Things to more applications, more use cases, and more environments than any other IoT technology option,” said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of the WiFi Alliance. 

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“Wi-Fi addresses the needs of various device types and use cases in the IoT market,” said Phil Solis, research director at IDC. “WiFi can deliver a wide range of data rates and ranges at varying price points because there are an abundance of WiFi chips supporting different levels of complexity and several unlicensed spectrum bands from sub-1 GHz to 6 GHz. It is this diversity in chips designs that allow WiFi to meet the broadest array of IoT product and network requirements.”

Other technologies such as Matter, Thread, Zigbee and Bluetooth Low Energy have been dominating the rollout of embedded IoT networks.

The WiFi Alliance has outlined eight areas where WiFi as a high volume, standards-based, interoperable technology can be used in the IoT. It points to the fact that IoT systems are often controlled through mobile devices, and WiFi allows control of smartphones, tablets, and 18 billion WiFi devices already in use today. However this also applies to Bluetooth.

WiFi Certified devices also use WPA3 security to protect information exchanged in personal and enterprise environments, but this has yet to extend to on-boarding and securing embedded devices.

It also points to WiFi Location awareness to take on the emerging localisation technology in Bluetooth low energy 5.3. The WiFi  location-aware IoT services for industrial and smart city environments support asset management, network management, and geo-fencing.

In addition to a traditional WiFi connection through access points, WiFi Certified EasyMesh, WiFi Certified WiFi Aware, and WiFi Direct offer a variety of network topologies to different IoT environments for scalable and customizable options.

“WiFi is everywhere; it allows direct connections to the internet and provides reliable and robust connectivity for IoT applications, which require a range of data rates, and offers a low power profile for battery-operated devices. Over the last 20 years, WiFi has evolved greatly, advancing through WiFi 4, 5 and now, 6 and 6E, improving performance and customer experience with each advancement. Infineon is committed to delivering high-performance WiFi for industrial and consumer IoT applications, ” said Sivaram Trikutam, Vice President of Wi-Fi Product Line at Infineon which also makes Matter chips for the IoT.

“As one of the most widely used IoT connectivity technologies, WiFi gives a solid foundation to begin building IoT deployments. As a leader in pure-play IoT, we believe in leveraging multiple protocols like WiFi, Zigbee, Thread, and more to meet the needs of our customers and WiFi plays a critical role in how we integrate them together,” said Mitch Klein, Director of Alliances Strategy at Silicon Labs.

“WiFi 6 is ideal for connecting the smart home, and a notable benefit for IoT is a feature called Target Wake Time (TWT), helping ensure that client devices can save power and extend their battery life – a critical advantage for IoT devices. WiFi 6 uses a combination of technologies – including OFDMA and 1024 QAM modulation – to improve spectral efficiency, boost speed and support many devices in a confined area, which is now an important consideration in the home where many appliances and other IoT devices are connected to the home hub and several users may be consuming high quality video, gaming, or AR/VR at the same time,” said Adlane Fellah, senior analyst, Maravedis Research. 

“WiFi 6 can now also support many of the requirements for industrial use cases, with enhancements to latency, determinism and power efficiency. In a smart factory, WiFi might deliver the optimal cost/performance for high bandwidth cameras that power augmented reality services and WiFi HaLow might be optimal for machinery monitoring, which needs very low power and low bandwidth.”

“With the introduction of Smart Homes, Smart Cities, and the increase in monitoring of manufacturing facilities, WiFi offers the best solution to communicate with the IoT devices that make these possible. WiFi provides the range required for effective service to IoT devices while maintaining privacy and security, and it is already in use within these ecosystems. Features such as WiFi Easy Connect, WiFi EasyMesh and WPA3 support simple and secure deployment. Coupled with WiFi 6 and 6E, the increase in useable spectrum results in a longer life cycle and a more productive experience,” said Luther Smith, Distinguished Technologist and Director of Wireless at CableLabs

“WiFi has been fundamental to IoT devices in residential environments, providing a foundation to power WiFi devices and also provide backhaul for battery operated devices using other low power technologies. CommScope backhauls billions of IoT devices with gateways, access points and extender solutions across cable, optical and fixed wireless access connected homes. With the imminent deployment of the Matter IoT solution and the incorporation of WiFi as a primary protocol for connected IoT devices, we expect to see even more relevance for the specific IoT features added to 2.4 GHz WiFi 2 MHz channels, which was a new WiFi 6 capability added to extend the reach of WiFi narrow band Smart Home solutions,” said Charles Cheevers, CTO of CommScope Home Networks.

“WiFi is a ubiquitous technology that continues to create opportunities for innovation within the internet of connected things. The WiFi Certified program provides interoperability assurance, which enables connectivity leaders – such as Texas Instruments – to offer reliable and secure WiFi solutions for industrial and residential applications, whether that’s in smart buildings, smart grid infrastructure, or medical applications,” said Marian Kost, Vice President and General Manager of Connectivity at Texas Instruments.

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