January 14, 2020
At CES 2020, Wi-Fi 6 — which promises more efficient and speedy data delivery — finally made an appearance in affordable routers and devices. Last year’s CES showed such routers for sale, but were too expensive to create widespread adoption. Further, the routers shown this year are significantly better than less expensive ones they replace. Netgear unveiled the Nighthawk Mesh, the first mesh router from any trusted manufacturer, at $230 for a two-pack and built to work well with Internet connections up to 400 Mbps.
The Verge reports that, “mesh router systems do tend to be more expensive than singular routers since they comprise multiple units … but they’re also increasingly the recommended choice for large homes,” because they provide “faster, stronger Wi-Fi speeds throughout your house.”
Wi-Fi 6 also appeared in mesh router systems from TP-Link, Arris, and D-Link. Comcast is unveiling Gateway in a Wi-Fi 6 version, which will impact all the people who rent their routers from cable.
With regard to mobile phones, Apple iPhone 11 and 11 Pro both include Wi-Fi 6 “and have sold millions since launching in September.” As a sign of Wi-Fi 6’s growing influence, Asus, Lenovo and Samsung were among those introducing Wi-Fi 6-enabled laptops.
“Wi-Fi 6 still isn’t in the cheapest of laptops and phones in most cases,” says The Verge. “But increasingly, it’s there where many people are buying: the nicer phones and laptops, plus the has-everything-you-need router systems.” It notes that, “we also started to see Wi-Fi 6 get married to 5G, using the speedier Wi-Fi standard to deliver the speedier wireless connection throughout your home.”
Wi-Fi 6 offers improved speed, “up to 9.6 Gbps from a theoretical maximum of 3.5 Gbps on Wi-Fi 5.” But rather than dramatically increase speeds, Wi-Fi 6’s greater bandwidth is most commonly used to allow routers to connect to “a multitude of devices” in the home. “The benefits of Wi-Fi 6 will really be seen over time, as more devices support the standard and its data delivery efficiencies are able to speed things up — or, at the least, prevent speeds from getting bogged down.”
To get to that point requires “Wi-Fi 6 needs to be built into every new device so that it naturally ends up in people’s pockets and homes.” “The improvements will come as more and more of your actively used devices become ones that support the new standard,” concludes The Verge. “It’s going to take a while before that’s everything — but at CES 2020, we saw it starting to happen.”