Posted by Rachael Plotkin, April 3, 2020
802.11ah (Wi-Fi HaLow) Technology Frequently Asked Question & Answers
The 802.11ah Wi-Fi HaLow standard is a new technology opening up a world of possibility for IoT device connectivity due to its ability to securely connect smart devices over long distances using minimal power. With the current launch of our SX-NEWAH module, Silex is the first company in the industry to use this technology to bring a solution to the market.
As with anything new, many questions have surfaced surrounding the use of 802.11ah Wi-Fi HaLow and the SX-NEWAH module. In an attempt to address them, Silex has compiled the below list of frequently asked questions and answers.
- Will the SX-NEWAH be available through Silex or NEWRACOM?
The SX-NEWAH module will be sold through Silex Technology channels.
- What are the dimensions of the SX-NEWAH module?
20.5mm X 27.0mm X 3.1mm
- Is there a datasheet available for the SX-NEWAH?
The current product brochure can be viewed here on the Silex website.
- Is Silex planning to integrate 802.11ah with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac?
Yes, Silex has plans to integrate 802.11ah and Wi-Fi in subsystem and solution level products.
- Do you have an approximate price for the SX-NEWAH module?
Early production pricing is in the mid to high $30 range per unit.
- How do I go about getting an SX-NEWAH-EVK (evaluation kit), and when will the SX-NEWAH module be available?
Silex currently has a limited number of engineering sample EVK’s in supply. If you are interested in receiving an evaluation kit, please contact Silex directly. SX-NEWAH evaluation kits will be available through our distribution partners in the next few weeks. Additionally, general availability and shipments for the SX-NEWAH module will begin in May 2020 as a registerable part for order through our distributors.
- What operating system does the SX-NEWAH support?
The initial deployment of the product will include a Linux based driver supporting kernel version v4.1. If this does not meet your needs, Silex also specializes in porting drivers to various operating systems and OS versions. Please reach out to us for information on how we can help meet your needs based on your specific OS requirement..
- Can the SX-NEWAH-EVK be used in Europe??
The module can be used in Europe, but with some modification. Because the SX-NEWAH is currently only a US certified module, Silex will not be enabling EU country codes on the production module. However, Silex is looking at ways to enable the support of one or multiple EU country codes in our EVK’s to allow evaluations. Unfortunately, during the initial release (which won’t be covering the EU), we can only provide EVK’s, which are not for commercial use and can’t be integrated into products and sold. However, Silex’s goal is to allow the European market to access to 802.11ah technology as soon as possible and provide them with the chance to evaluate the SX-NEWAH module as we work on enabling Wi-Fi HaLow in the EU.
- When will SX-NEWAH be available in Europe??
Silex will be demonstrating 802.11ah technology in Europe in 2020, and in the process of completing our EU marketing evaluation and regulatory evaluation assessment, which we will need to complete before an EU version of the module can be introduced. Silex welcomes any feedback about the EU Market’s perception and acceptance of deploying 802.11ah technology.
- How will Silex meet the manage the global deployment of 802.11ah technology?
802.11ah is a free band that operates in the Sub 1GHz license-exempt band, where frequency bands are less overlapping and less continuous from region to region in contrast to the abundance of frequency bands available in 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi technologies. To extrend coverage for the world, Silex will be delivering three to four regionally dependent versions of the product, resulting in these product variants possessing an identical footprint, but with support based on different regions.
- What frequency range does the SX-NEWAH module support in the US, EU and Asia?
The frequency range for the US product is 915MHz. Although not finalized, Silex anticipates that the frequency range on the EU band will be 863MHz (with the regulatory update), with Japan’s band supporting 916MHz.
- Is the SX-NEWAH FCC Certified?
The product will be released with modular certification for North America, making it easy for device manufacturers to reference and leverage SX-NEWAH’s FCC id to establish modular compliance. Silex’s SX-NEWAH comes with modular certification for two different types of antennas: external rod and internal PCB.
- What kind of antenna’s are needed for 802.11ah technology?
Using 802.11ah technology with the SX-NEWAH module requires an antenna designed for the RF spectrum that the SX-NEWAH is transmitting on. Silex's internal FCC certifications (and subsequent certifications in Europe and Japan) for SX-NEWAH will include external antenna's that are similar to a rod antenna. Additionally, the inclusion of an embedded PCB style antenna will be provided for the use of both an internal and external antenna, making the module useable straight out of the box by eliminating the need to secure an additional antenna. As part of the services we offer to meet our customer's individual needs, Silex can add a different or customized antenna to SX-NEWAH's FCC modular certification (which may require the customer to provide an associated lab fee). Please contact Silex for more information.
- Aside from Raspberry Pi, what other platforms does the SX-NEWAH-EVK support?
The initial release of SX-NEWAH-EVK uses the Raspberry Pi reference platform, which includes a demo image to expedite the evaluation process. The EVK also includes headers that allow for the attachment of almost any EVK with an SPI port. Additionally, this product employs a Linux device driver, including access to the Linux source code, which can be ported to alternate platforms.
- Is there a legal aspect associated with obtaining access to Silex’s Linux source code?
The drive source code will be available upon signing an NDA and obtaining a Silex license agreement. The distribution of the license will be under the Open Source GPL license.
- Will the SX-NEWAH module be available in mPCIe (Mini PCI-Express) format?
- Can we expect 802.11ah functionality to be integrated into COTS Wi-Fi AP’s for residential or commercial use?
Technology providers, including our partner NEWRACOM, are currently looking into future firmware releases that will enable additional features based on Wi-Fi regulations in different countries. Internally, Silex is planning to release a number of products beyond the SX-NEWAH module that provides infrastructure support for 802.11ah technology, including bridges and AP’s. The SX-NEWAH module can currently support both client and AP mode.
- Taking memory and computing resources into account, what is a realistic number of sensors that can be supported through 802.11ah access points?
The maximum number of clients supported by the SX-NEWAH, when in Access Point mode, is 1024. Realistic client counts will depend very much upon the application and configuration of the network. If correctly configured for a sensor network Silex and Newracom see no reason the maximum number of clients cannot be supported.
- Will modern routers be required to support 802.11ah technology?
The focus of modern routers are on PC and phone connectivity, and these devices are not compatible with 802.11ah technology. The expectation is that updates to the current Wi-Fi network accommodating Wi-Fi HaLow technology will be introduced by adding 802.11ah AP’s to existing networks.
- What is SX-NEWAH’s transmission power level?
The module’s transmission power level is 20dBm, which is the Tx power level at the radio’s antenna connector.
- SX-NEWAH’s current in low power mode is 32mA. Is 32mA the total power when connected to the interface board, or is this just power of the module?
The stated 32mA is the power of the module when the SX-NEWAH is in a standby power-save mode. Although this is not the lowest power supported by the module, 802.11ah technology employs several aggressive power-down states where the radio is in a deep sleep mode rather than standby. The deep sleep mode supports a current drain of <20uA.
- Can SX-NEWAH’s power level be attained with an amplifier?
The power level stated in SX-NEWAH’s hardware specifications, 30dBm, accounts for the entire module’s power.
- Why does the webinar presentation specify Wi-Fi HaLow’s flexible data rate as 15Mbps, which is much higher than the standard data rate found in 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi technologies?
The SX-NEWAH is a 1X1, 1-4 MHz channel width device limited to 15Mbps. This hardware spec allows for wider channel width; however, the device prioritizes range over throughput.
- Does 802.11ah technology have a functional limit on the number of hops that can be taken during data transmission and how far can the distance of the Wi-Fi network extend to?
The distance of the network coverage depends on the application of the use case, specifically the data rate requirements. An estimate of the maximum range needed to cover connectivity for the entire network will be required while keeping in mind that a percentage of data rate gets lost in every single relay or transfer of data. The network usage coverage range will determine the number of AP’s required to establish Wi-Fi connectivity for the desired distance requirement.
- Does Silex supply a communication stack/API for the SX-NEWAH, or does the user need to communicate directly with the modules NRC7292 SoC?
Silex provides an SPI driver with an API that the host will use to control and access the radio. This API will be documented, and a DRAFT version of the documentation will be available upon request.
Please contact email@example.com for more information.