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Wi-Fi HaLow Flexes Its Wings, Extending Two Miles on Morse Micro SoC

February 06, 2024 by Arjun Nijhawan

Morse Micro, a leading Wi-Fi Certified HaLow vendor, conducted the world’s first live demonstration of a long-range Wi-Fi video call in San Francisco, California.

Morse Micro recently announced that it has successfully tested an implementation of IEEE 802.11ah technology known as Wi-Fi Certified HaLow using its MM6108 SoC. Wi-Fi Certified HaLow (pronounced "halo") uses a lower frequency band than typical Wi-Fi for data. Morse Micro says this enables various IoT use cases in industrial, agricultural, and smart city environments.

 

MM6108

Morse Micro calls its MM6108 the "fastest, smallest, lowest-power, and longest-range Wi-Fi HaLow SoC available in the market". Screenshot used courtesy of Morse Micro
 

Compared to previous iterations of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Certified HaLow reportedly offers longer-range connections, lower power consumption, and better material penetration. 

Morse Micro recently tested the resilience of its Wi-Fi Certified HaLow solution, the MM6108 SoC, over an extended range on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. The team found that despite the noisy environment, they could maintain a clear connection up to 3 Km away (nearly two miles).

 

Wi-Fi HaLow’s Extended Range and Resilience to Noise 

All products that are certified as Wi-Fi Certified HaLow operate in the sub-1 GHz spectrum. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the goal of Wi-Fi Halow is to provide a more robust Wi-Fi connection over a longer distance in a noisier environment, without requiring any proprietary getaways or hubs. 

 

Different tiers of Wi-Fi technology

Different tiers of Wi-Fi technology. Image used courtesy of the Wi-Fi Alliance
 

In the Ocean Beach demonstration, shown in a YouTube video posted by Morse Micro, the company uses its new FCC-certified MM6180 production silicon, implementing the Wi-Fi Certified HaLow standard. The MM6180 supports up to 32 MBps data rate and flexible operation between 850 MHz and 950 MHz. It also supports security features such as WPA3, which is the latest Wi-Fi security standard that makes passwords much harder to crack than in WPA2.

 

Ocean Beach demonstration

Morse Micro set a record with a long-range video call in San Francisco’s Ocean Beach neighborhood to demonstrate how sub-GHz Wi-Fi HaLow signals can reach nearly two miles in challenging real-world situations. Screenshot used courtesy of Morse Micro
 

The SoC itself is packaged in an 18.5 mm x 14.5 mm package and is connected to RF filters and matching components, a 32-MHz crystal, and the digital I/F. The digital interface has a variety of serial and parallel interfaces for external communication. The RF front end has a low noise amplifier (LNA) and power amplifier (PA). 

 

Block diagram of the MM6108 Wi-Fi HaLow module

Block diagram of the MM6108 Wi-Fi HaLow module. Image used courtesy of Morse Micro
 

Because the IEEE 802.11AH standard also enables extended sleep times, the MM6108 has a power management unit (PMU) for ultra-low-power operation. Morse Micro says the MM6108 is suitable for a wide variety of applications ranging from surveillance cameras to cloud connectivity and rural internet access. 

 

More Wi-Fi HaLow SoCs on the Market

The MM6108 SoC is fully interfaceable with a Wi-Fi Certified HaLow API. While Morse Micro says the MM6108 is the smallest, fastest, lowest-power, and longest-range Wi-Fi Certified HaLow SoC on the market, several other companies offer comparable products.

Newracom, a fabless semiconductor company that is a self-proclaimed leading developer of Wi-Fi chips, has an entire lineup of Wi-Fi Certified HaLow devices. This includes the NRC7394, which is a “next-generation” Wi-Fi Certified HaLow SoC. It's unclear, however, whether any of these devices will be able to offer the same extended range capability (up to 3 Km) that Morse Micro demonstrated in its recent video. Wi-Fi Certified HaLow could be poised for explosive growth in IoT applications, with Forbes pointing out that it could play a critical role in creating more reliable Wi-Fi networks over large urban areas.