802.11ax preview: Access points and routers that support the Wi-Fi 6 protocol on tap


The latest update to the Wi-Fi protocol standard, 802.11ax, has been designed to transmit data even faster, to better negotiate bandwidth among several computers and other devices connected to a network, and to more reliably deliver high-bandwidth applications to them, such as streaming video, than the protocol standard it succeeds, 802.11ac.

To take advantage of these gains, client and networking devices need to have hardware that supports the new protocol, of course. Many network device makers have announced 802.11ax products to come. They’ve also filed 802.11ax devices with the FCC for licensing, which reveal more technical information about them.

Some of the 802.11ax access points and routers that we know of have “AX6000” or “AX11000” as part of their names or listed in their specs. These numbers represent the total sum of data that all the bands of the device can transmit at maximum. Under 802.11ax, on the 2.4 GHz band, this maximum is 1148 Mbps. On the 5 GHz band, the rate can go up to 4804 Mbps. An access point or router designated “AX6000” has a 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band. “AX11000” means it has three bands: one 2.4 GHz and two 5 GHz.

Expect to hear about Wi-Fi 6

As these new routers come to market, you might see some of them referred to as Wi-Fi 6 devices, a new term coined by the Wi-Fi Alliance. The naming scheme is meant to make it simpler for consumers to recognize which of the IEEE 802.11 standards individual Wi-Fi devices support. Wi-Fi 6 is the designation for 802.11ax support.

One vendor – Aerohive Networks – is already selling 802.11ax products for the enterprise; other leading device makers are readying their own 802.11ax networking devices, some of which could be released soon while others will make their debut in 2019. Here’s what we know so far.

Aerohive first to market with enterprise 802.11ax access point

In January, Aerohive Networks announced three 802.11ax access points and said they would be available in the third-quarter of this year. This maker of networking equipment for the enterprise shipped its first 802.11ax access point, the AP630, on July 31.

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