802.11ah is a wireless LAN (WLAN) specification developed by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) that operates in frequency bands below one gigahertz (900 MHz) while delivering a range nearly twice that of previous Wi-Fi technologies.
In addition to its extended range, another key benefit with the 802.11ah standard is its low power consumption needs, making it ideally suited for Internet of Things (IoT) devices used in smart homes and smart cities, connected cars, digital health care markets, and industrial and retail environments.
In January 2016, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced that products utilizing the new IEEE 802.11ah wireless technology would carry the Wi-Fi HaLow name. With its low power consumption and extended range, 802.11ah Wi-Fi HaLow will likely compete with Bluetooth technology and products in many areas, especially smart homes and other emerging IoT markets.
Recommended Reading: See 802.11 for a complete overview of the 802.11x family of specifications.
802.11ah and Its Relationship with Earlier 802.11 Specs
While 802.11ah extends earlier 802.11 specifications, it doesn’t provide direct backwards compatibility with previous 802.11 specs and older devices and access points that utilize the existing 802.11 specifications. As a result, 802.11ah devices require an 802.11ah access point in order to function.
Tri-band devices that support all three common wireless frequencies the sub 1GHz of 802.11ah, the 2.4GHz of 802.11b and 802.11g and 802.11, and the 5GHz of 802.11a, 802.11n and 802.11ac are expected to be developed and released starting in 2016.
Also see Webopedia’s Wireless LAN Standards chart and How Wireless Networks Work.