Netgear took the wraps off its all-new Nighthawk RAXE500 router at CES today. This is a true tri-band Wi-Fi 6e device that operates three independent wireless networks using spectrum in the 2.4-, 5-, and the newly deregulated 6GHz frequency bands to deliver huge amounts of bandwidth—theoretical top speed of 10.8Gbps combined—with very little latency.
The FCC opened 1,200MHz of bandwidth in the 6GHz frequency band to Wi-Fi in April 2020. The primary benefit is the availability of 59 non-overlapping channels in that spectrum, compared to 25 in the 5GHz band and just three in the 2.4GHz band. Wi-Fi 6e gear is likely to have somewhat shorter range—particularly compared to 2.4GHz—because shorter-wavelength radio signals are more easily absorbed by walls and even the atmosphere.
The 6GHz frequency band, on the other hand, will be much less congested. Plus, only Wi-Fi 6e clients will be allowed to use that spectrum. The short-term downside, on the other hand, is that there are very few Wi-Fi 6e clients to begin with. Intel has a part now, and Broadcom and Samsung will have one soon, but that’s it.
The Nighthawk RAXE500 is powered by a 1.8GHz quad-core processor and is outfitted with a multi-gig (2.5Gbps) WAN port for those with very fast broadband connections. Two of its five gigabit ethernet ports can be aggregated for either 2Gbps LAN or WAN connections. The batwing-shaped router also has dual USB 3.0 ports. It will be available later in Q1 and sell for $600.
Netgear is also showing a new DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem with an integrated Wi-Fi 6 router. The Nighthawk AX6/6-Stream (model number CAX30) is compatible with cable broadband service from Xfinity, Spectrum, and Cox. It will sell for $300 when it becomes available later this month, joining Netgear’s currently available cable modem offerings, the higher-end Nighthawk WiFi6 AX6000 (model CAX80, $430) and the Orbi Tri-Band WiFi6 Cable Mesh System (model CBK752, or $600 for the router plus one satellite, $450 for the cable modem/router solo).