Mesh routers are all the rage right now. Google, Amazon, Asus, Linksys, and many others have their own dual or tri-band mesh setups, but now Netgear says it has something new—the world’s first quad-band Wi-Fi 6E system. That extra band is going to cost you dearly, though. The Orbi Quad-band Mesh WiFi 6E kit will set you back a whopping $1,500.
A mesh router system blankets a large area with Wi-Fi coverage, letting you roam around your house without worrying about your connection quality. When you get too far away from one of the mesh access points, there should be another one nearby to take over. A well-designed mesh setup should be seamless and omnipresent, but many of them have trouble maintaining the highest speeds, especially in the nether regions of a living area. That’s something that a quad-band router could theoretically address.
Wireless spectrum is a limited resource, however, and Wi-Fi networks have been stuck with only two bands for many years because of it. However, the new Wi-Fi 6E standard has opened up the 6GHz frequency for the first time. This bit of the spectrum is less congested than 5 or 2.4 GHz, and it also has a higher maximum data throughput. Most tri-band routers have a single 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands, with one of the 5GHz bands working as backhaul between the nodes, and the rest is free and clear for your use. Add a 6GHz radio on top of that, and you’ve got the Orbi Quad-band Mesh.
According to Netgear, the quad-band network can support up to 10.8Gbps of total bandwidth, which is the same as some of its tri-band routers. There’s a big difference in coverage area, however, with the three-unit bundle reportedly able to cover up to 9,000 square feet, compared to 2,500 square feet for a similar Netgear tri-band router. That should be enough to saturate even the most Faraday-like house with wireless connectivity. The system will let you create up to four distinct Wi-Fi networks, including a Wi-Fi 6E network for the handful of devices that support the new, faster standard. One of the 5GHz radios acts as dedicated backhaul, leaving the rest for your devices. More of a wired person? Both the router and its satellites offer three gigabit ethernet ports and a 2.5Gbps port.
Netgear has the Orbi Quad-band available for pre-order right now, but it’s only available in the $1,500 three-pack configuration. That includes the router unit and two satellites. You can purchase additional satellites for $599 each. Although, if 9,000 square feet of coverage isn’t enough, you might want to look at an enterprise-grade Wi-Fi setup. If you just need Wi-Fi 6E and don’t care about the elaborate band setup, there are much cheaper options from Eero, Asus, and others.
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