Interview with Vahid Manian from Morse Micro

  • Vahid Manian - Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Based out of Sydney, Australia, Morse Micro is a leading developer of Wi-Fi HaLow based microprocessors. The company is an avid contributor to the efforts of the Wi-Fi Alliance to bring interoperability certifications for Wi-Fi HaLow technology to market. They also are the current Vice-Chair of the Wi-Fi HaLow Task Group, offering a clear vantage point to create a robust and interoperable wireless solution. everything RF recently had a chance to interact with Vahid Manian, the COO of Morse Micro and know more about his company and their HaLow technology advancements.

Here is our full interview:

Q. Can you tell us more about Morse Micro? When was the company founded, where are you based and what was the objective when founded?

Vahid Manian: Morse Micro is a fast-growing wireless IC solutions company that is reinventing Wi-Fi for the Internet of Things (IoT), with the industry’s smallest and lowest power Wi-Fi HaLow silicon solution that securely connects smart devices over 10x the range of traditional Wi-Fi using minimal power.

The company was founded in 2016 in Sydney, Australia by Wi-Fi pioneers and innovators, Michael De Nil and Andrew Terry, joined by the original Wi-Fi inventor Neil Weste and wireless industry veterans, whose teams designed Wi-Fi chips into billions of smartphones. Morse Micro is a contributor member and vice-chair of the Wi-Fi Alliance HaLow program and a key contributor to the HaLow certification test plan.

Q. What is Wi-Fi HaLow technology? What is it used for? What is unique about it?

Vahid Manian: Wi-Fi HaLow is based on IEEE 802.11 ah, a new Wi-Fi standard that targets low power and long-range connectivity, as required by many IoT and M2M applications. Wi-Fi HaLow delivers tens of Mbits/s and can reach over a kilometer and connect more than 8000 nodes via a single access point.

While conventional Wi-Fi is the most ubiquitous wireless communications protocol in use today, the rapid growth of the IoT has forced a rethinking of Wi-Fi, revealed technological gaps and what role it needs to play in an all-encompassing connected world. The higher demands for long-range connectivity and low power requirements for many IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications are ushering in Wi-Fi HaLow at an increasingly faster rate this year and for the years ahead.

Q. Is Wi-Fi HaLow the same as 802.11 ah?

Vahid Manian: Yes, 802.11 ah is the wireless networking standard that was ratified and published by the IEEE and “Wi-Fi HaLow” is the name dubbed by Wi-Fi Alliance to the protocol (similar to “802.11n” and “Wi-Fi 4”).

Q. What are the key technical specs of Wi-Fi HaLow technology?

Vahid Manian: Traditional Wi-Fi enables users to stream movies and download files quickly using wide channels of radio frequencies in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and even 6 GHz bands in the near future. The effective distance for these connections is short and they drain batteries fast, requiring frequent charging or a power connection. Traditional Wi-Fi protocols and the latest Wi-Fi 6/6E are ideal for bandwidth intensive applications such as 4K video streaming, gaming and augmented reality.

Wi-Fi HaLow builds on the robust security and spectral efficient OFDM foundations, while utilizing narrower channels of radio frequencies under 1 GHz to better penetrate through materials, allowing connections reaching up to 10 times farther, 100 times the area and 1000 times the volume of traditional Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi HaLow is perfect for IoT devices as it allows over 8,000 robust connections to a single access point, and can take advantage of new sleep modes that save power. Wi-Fi HaLow enables a new class of products that can run off batteries for years, and still offers many Mbps of data throughput.

The network congestion, distance limitations and higher power usage of conventional Wi-Fi, along with the limited number of devices that can be connected to a single wireless access point, are no longer viable in a connected world of smart devices. Such limitations impede new IoT-centric business models that are emerging across industries, which require greater capacity, range and battery operation while minimizing deployment costs and timelines -- all of which are highly desirable attributes.

Table: COMPARING Wi-Fi 4/5/6 to Wi-Fi HaLow


Wi-Fi 4/5/6

(IEEE 802.11n/ac/ax)

Wi-Fi HaLow

(IEEE 802.11ah)
Operating Frequency Bands 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz (6E)

Sub-1 GHz (902 – 928 MHz in USA)

Channel Width Choices 20, 40, 80, 160 MHz 1, 2, 4, 8, (16 optional) MHz
Max. Addressable STAs Per AP 2007 8191
Single Stream MCS Data Rate Range

6.5 Mbps-150 Mbps (.11n, Wi-Fi 4)

150 Kbps – 86.7 Mbps
Typical range ~100 m

10x longer range

100x the area

1000x the volume

Compared to 802.11n 20 MHz

Q. How does Wi-Fi HaLow compare to other IoT technologies?

Vahid Manian: Wi-Fi HaLow enhances the wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) to support today’s most challenging IoT system requirements. It occupies a space between ultra-low-power, ultra-low-throughput and lower energy-efficient protocols such as LoRa and Sigfox Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN), the lower-throughput, shorter-range Personal Area Networks (PAN) such as Bluetooth/ Bluetooth 5, and the more power-hungry LTE Cat-M / Narrowband-IoT cellular networks that come along with data plans.

While the technological gaps had previously spurred sub-optimal proprietary solutions to address market demand, the new reality is that these gaps are now rectified under the IEEE 802.11 standards umbrella: System integrators can leverage the same hardware and software assets already developed for traditional Wi-Fi radios, enjoy multi-vendor product offering and benefit from the Wi-Fi Alliance interoperability testing and certification programs. Users no longer need to compromise on range, throughput, power consumption, network capacity, complex mesh network setups or monthly subscription contracts. Security takes front seat as part of the IEEE 802.11 enterprise-grade security standards: Wi-Fi HaLow embraces the latest WPA3 security protocol along with encrypted messages and unique ID technology for secure boot implementation. High data-rates allow secure over-the-air firmware upgrades, and support UDP and TCP/IP protocols. Native IP support means that no bridges or gateways are required.

Energy Efficiency High Low Low Low High Med Med
Idle Power Consumption Low Low Low Low Low Low Low
Data Rate 150 Kbps - 86.7 Mbps 100 bps - 50 Kbps 100 bps - 600 bps 20 Kbps - 25 Kbps 125 Kbps -  2 Mbps 100 Kbps 250 Kbps
Range 1 Km 10 Km 10 Km 10 Km <100 m 30 m 20 m
Penetration through Material Best Best Best Good Poor Good Poor
Security Best Poor Poor Good Good Good Good
Network Data Capacity Best Poor Worst Poor Good Good Poor
Installation/ Operational Costs Low High High High High Med Med
Service Provider Contract No Yes Yes Yes No No No
Licensed Spectrum License-Exempt License-Exempt License-Exempt Licensed License-Exempt License-Exempt License-Exempt
Interoperability IEEE Std / Wi-Fi Alliance Proprietary Proprietary 3GPP Bluetooth SIG Proprietary IEEE Std / Zigbee Alliance
Native IP Support Yes No No Yes (Limited) No No No


Q. What are some applications where Wi-Fi HaLow technology can be used? How is it better for these applications than conventional Wi-Fi or other existing wireless technologies?

Vahid Manian: In the initial stage of deployment, Wi-Fi HaLow is expected to be used in both indoor and outdoor applications where standard Wi-Fi cannot reach as in the case of battery-operated surveillance systems, wireless cameras, and smart-home doorbells. Another typical use case would be large venues, where a single HaLow access point can connect to thousands of devices, covering 1000x the volume of traditional Wi-Fi, bypassing complex, bandwidth limited and less reliable mesh architecture, simplifying installation and reducing total cost of ownership.

Such an example can be found in large buildings, offices, campuses, shopping malls and stadiums - benefit from the easy provisioning of cameras and sensors to enhance both the security and health of its occupants with advanced Access control (body temp monitors, face mask compliance, area maximum occupancy and surface cleaning gauges add up to the long list of applications). Industrial automation, process control sensors, building automation, logistics and asset management, warehouses, agriculture, mining, clean energy farms and retail stores amongst many others will need this technology, enabling everything to remain connected in an increasingly automated world.

Q. Can you tell us about the Wi-Fi HaLow connectivity solution that Morse Micro has developed?

Vahid Manian: Morse Micro provides a complete Wi-Fi HaLow connectivity solution. The MM61xx family of SoC are single-chip solutions, each of which incorporates the Radio, PHY, and MAC sections designed in accordance with the IEEE 802.11ah standard, supporting data rates up to 43.3Mbps. The standard provides for operation in the sub-1 GHz license-exempt RF bands. The Radio in the MM61xx supports programmable operation in these ISM bands, worldwide, between 750MHz and 950MHz.

The RF interface for the MM61xx includes the option to use either the on-chip amplification for typical low-power, low-cost devices, or an external PCB-mount power amplifier (PA) or Front-End Module (FEM) for Ultra-Long-Reach applications. The RF receiver features ultra-high linearity front end, making the use of external filters unnecessary in many applications.

Battery-operated applications are supported by a combination of features in the MM61xx. The IEEE 802.11 ah standard combined with Morse Micro’s low power design expertise provide for extended sleep times and lower power consumption of battery-operated STA client devices, with longer durations than other prior IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax generations.

Q. What is the status of this product?

Vahid Manian: Prototypes of our product have been sampled to early access partners for evaluation and fields trials. We expect OEM deployments in 2021.

Q. Morse Micro has raised over $33 Million in funding with a new round of $13 Million in November? What are you planning to use these funds for? Will you look to raise more funds in the upcoming months or years?

Vahid Manian: The recent funding took the total Series A funding round to $30 million (AU $42). This additional investment enables us to expand our product and technology development teams, both in Sydney and internationally. It will also allow us to expand into emerging applications and continue developing innovative wireless solutions. We are not planning additional funding in the near future.

Q. What are your targets for 2021 and what is your roadmap for the next 5 years?

Vahid Manian: New innovations for HaLow are gaining traction and Morse Micro is investing heavily in the market shift to HaLow with its smallest system-on-chip and module solutions. The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced a HaLow certification program to be available in 2021, and large companies are interested in using the silicon chips for Wi-Fi HaLow in new products. All of the pieces are coming together, while alternatives are starting to lose their shine, especially around the IoT. Market adoption of Wi-Fi HaLow will reinvent Wi-Fi itself, with users never seeing Wi-Fi the same again.