Complementing Existing Wi-Fi: How ioAire Fills the Gaps

When it comes to our cyber-connected world, today’s Wi-Fi carries well over half of all Internet traffic. It is extremely popular for several reasons: 

white and gray network wi-fi icon

  • Wi-Fi is free, where you can find it — although this can be difficult in rural, off-grid, open market locations, and during travel.
  • It has thousands of solid use cases (and growing).
  • Wi-Fi is more ubiquitous than even the smartphone! (The smartphone did play a major role in Wi-Fi’s growth, however.)

The Wi-Fi product family offerings have expanded over the years since its introduction. Wi-Fi from the early 2000s operated only in the 2.4 GHz frequency band. Next, Wi-Fi 4 and 5 became very popular. In the past decade, several new Wi-Fi types have been introduced, most notable being Wi-Fi 6 and 7. Note for now, each evolution has gone upward in frequency. 

Wi-Fi’s Limitations

However, with each introduction, new versions have presented new issues, due to increasing complexity. This especially rings true in larger settings. A thorough understanding of the interplay of operating environment and system configuration is required, or long-term problems will plague the IT department. Multiple parameters must be jointly optimized, and this is non-trivial. 

Further, when it comes to mission-critical industrial wireless, network up-time and throughput requirements typically push Wi-Fi past its limitations. With today’s expanding industrial application requirements, wireless networks are relied upon for mixed front-office and critical machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. Even for small-to-medium-sized facilities, this “multimode” operation is problematic. Ultra-low latency is needed, requiring an involved configuration process for Wi-Fi to achieve sufficient performance.

Wi-Fi HaLow: A New Standard in Wireless

By implementing our industrial networking systems upon a relatively new Wi-Fi standard named Wi-Fi HaLow, ioAire breaks through limitations posed by Wi-Fi 4 through Wi-Fi 7 technologies. Wi-Fi HaLow was created under standard IEEE 802.11ah in 2017. It is a network type that enables low-power, high-data-rate communications, using the license-exempt band at sub-1 GHz. 

network and computer technology illustrationThe characteristics of sub-1 GHz operation include long-distance propagation and excellent transmittance through obstacles. Other advancements in this new standard allow for 8,192 stations per access point (AP), with ranges up to 3km. 

ioAire wirelessly connects fixed and mobile devices to cover campuses of buildings, tall structures, work yards, shipping ports, or factories. In unique ways, these networks provide new levels of secure data delivery in conjunction with existing Wi-Fi equipment.

Bandwidths are also tailored for IIoT, selectable in ten ranges from 1mbps to >80mbps.  Accordingly, IEEE 802.11ah has been standardized for IoT use cases, which demand low-cost, low-power, and long-range communications, with low-latency automation and multimedia capabilities.

One major distinction noted above is that, while every other type of Wi-Fi evolved up in frequency, the new Wi-Fi HaLow went downward. At sub-1 GHz, it is very well-suited to address a host of industrial wireless issues that exist today.

ioAire networks will operate with existing Wi-Fi 4-7 environments without interfering. We actually improve existing network installations, offering seamless Wi-Fi bridging and superior operating range.

Another key benefit of sub-1 GHz is superior penetration through complex structures. Due to this advantage, ioAire networks provide superior backhauling of Wi-Fi traffic in difficult environments, thereby filling gaps, spanning large structures, and extending to outdoor spaces — something that previously wasn’t possible.

This ability to complement existing Wi-Fi networks means that during installation, there’s no need to rip up and replace existing wireless infrastructure. This, combined with the requirement for very few ioAire access points to be installed results in lower-cost networks that provide exceptional performance.

What limitations do you face with your current industrial wireless networking? Drop us a line and let’s talk.

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