SAN JOSE, Calif. — WiFi took one step closer to the Internet of Things (IoT) with the announcement of silicon intellectual property for sub-gigahertz spectrum bands. Antcor SA of Athens will demonstrate its DSP block for the IEEE 802.11ah standard at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The block is the first indication of a generation of chips expected to roll out before the end of this year. The spec aims to support data rates from 150 Kbit/s with a 1 MHz band to as much as 40 Mbit/s over an 8 MHz band across a distance at least 50% longer than today's .11n consumer devices. It also will help WiFi vendors extend into large building and outdoor networks supporting thousands of connections.
Antcor CEO Costas Meimetis said one company (which he cannot name) has already licensed the technology. "The standard is expected to get ratified by end of 2015, but we expect to see 802.11ah SoCs hitting the market before the end of this year."
The company's use of DSP blocks allows it to make upgrades for any changes in the final standard. The block also supports 4x4 MIMO for home gateways and industrial automation networks.
A wide range of chip companies are participating in the standards effort, including Broadcom, CSR, Huawei, Intel, LG, Marvell, NEC, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Samsung, and ZTE. Besides the traditional WiFi chip vendors, "we believe 802.11ah will open up doors to other semiconductor companies which are currently closer to the IoT market," said Meimetis.
That said, the new WiFi variant will have to face a wide variety of other sub-GHz networks well established in the market, including ZigBee and Z-Wave.
"The growing market for IoT... will be significantly enhanced by the new 802.11ah sub-GHz low-power wireless technology and Antcor is the first out of the gate to offer a solution for chip rollout," Will Strauss, principal of the market research firm Forward Concepts, said in an Antcor press release. "Antcor's proven Proteus 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac platform provides assurance of a smooth implementation."
Antcor, a venture-based startup founded in 2004, provides DSP-based communications chip blocks. It will demo its .11ah capabilities at the MWC in the booth of the DSP-block provider Ceva, an investor in Antcor.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times