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.
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.
The AP630 is a dual-band Wi-Fi router running on a 1.8GHz dual-core Broadcom CPU with 1GB RAM and 256MB flash memory. Its connector ports include two LAN Ethernet and one USB 2.0. It’s now available to buy for US$1,199.
The AP650 is Aerohive’s tri-band model. Its CPU is a 1.8GHz quad-core Broadcom but has the same memory amounts as the AP630. It has one 2.5-Gigabit WAN and one LAN connectors, and one USB 3.0 port. The AP650X is the AP650 with eight external antennas to provide a wider broadcasting range. Both version models sell for $1399.
ASUS makes a statement with Rapture GT-AX11000
ASUS announced on June 4 three 802.11ax products to be released in the third quarter of this year.
With its eight antennas surrounding an angular case design, the appearance of the Rapture GT-AX11000 conveys a sense of power. ASUS claimed its Rapture GT-AX11000 is the first tri-band 802.11ax router in the world (despite the fact that another company announced their own tri-band in January; ASUS perhaps means that it aims to bring its to market first).
The Rapture GT-AX11000 runs on a 1.8Ghz quad-core Broadcom chipset with 1GB RAM and 256MB flash memory. Its WAN Ethernet port is 2.5 Gbps. Other ports include four LAN Ethernet and two USB 3.1.
ASUS revealed another 802.11ax router, a dual-band model: the RT-AX88U running on the same Broadcom CPU and memory amounts. Its WAN port is 1-Gigabit, but it has eight LAN ports. Like the Rapture GT-AX11000, it has two USB 3.1 ports.
The third 802.11ax product is a mesh networking setup. The AiMesh AX6100 WiFi System will be sold as a pair of devices. Each broadcasts three bands that individually support different Wi-Fi protocol standards: one band is 5 GHz, supports 802.11ax, and can relay data up to 4804 Mbps. A second 5 GHz band supports 802.11ac for a maximum rate of 866 Mbps. The third is 2.4 GHz, set for 802.11n and able to transmit up to 400 Mbps.
Charter previews 802.11ax router for its customers
On August 1, Charter Communications announced it will release a Wi-Fi router supporting 802.11ax for its Spectrum broadband service. According to the official announcement, Charter will be the first broadband provider in the U.S. to support this new standard with its own router for Charter customers.
There weren’t any details about the hardware given in the company’s press release, but an FCC filing lists a dual-band router by Charter under the name “RAX1V1K.” It has a 2.0GHz quad-core Qualcomm CPU. Its connectors include one 2.5-Gigabit WAN and four LAN Ethernet, and one USB 3.0 port.
D-Link's 802.11ax products include AX11000 Ultra Wi-Fi Router
D-Link announced its 802.11ax products on January 8. An early marketing video for D-Link’s tri-band 802.11ax router, the AX11000 Ultra Wi-Fi Router, touts that it’s for "extreme networks." Like ASUS’s tri-band router, this D-Link model has eight antennas and a sharp, angular design. It’s a mystery for now what kind of CPU and amount of RAM it will have. But it has one 5-Gigabit WAN and four LAN Ethernet, and one USB 3.0 port.
A dual-band model, the AX6000 Ultra Wi-Fi Router, has the same number and type of ports as the tri-band model. More details in an FCC filing for it say that this router runs a 1.8GHz quad-core Broadcom CPU with 512MB of RAM and 256MB of flash memory.
D-Link said that these routers would be available sometime in the second half of this year.
Linksys mum on 802.11ax access point plans
This well-known maker of networking devices has been laying low about what its 802.11ax plans may be. It looks like Linksys may be waiting things out and willing to come late into the market. There doesn’t appear to be any FCC listings for 802.11ax devices that have been submitted by the company.
Netgear keeps 802.11ax plans under wraps
Although Netgear, another major maker of networking devices, hasn’t said much about its 802.11ax plans either, there are two FCC listings by them for 802.11ax routers.
One goes by the codename Jaguar and is speculated to be called the Nighthawk X12 or Nighthawk AX8 when it’s released. It appears to be a dual-band router. It has a 1.8GHz quad-core Broadcom CPU, 512MB RAM and 256MB flash memory. Its connectors include one WAN Ethernet and five LAN, and two USB 3.0 ports.
The second 802.11ax router is codenamed Leopard. The differences with the Jaguar is it is listed as having a 2.0GHz quad-core CPU by Qualcomm and four LAN Ethernet ports.
TP-Link goes futuristic with Archer AX11000
Here's another tri-band 802.11ax router with a case design that wouldn’t be out of place as a prop from science fiction. The eight antennas of the Archer AX11000 look like futuristic weapon blades sheathed around an industrial knife block.
According to a press release that TP-Link put out on August 31, the Archer AX11000 has a 1.8GHz quad-core Broadcom CPU with 1GB RAM and 512MB flash memory. It has one 2.5Gbps WAN and eight LAN Ethernet ports, and one USB 3.0 Type A and one USB 3.0 Type C port.
Another router, the Archer AX6000, was also mentioned in this press release. Other than being a dual-band model, it appears to have most of the same specs as its tri-band counterpart (minus the flash memory).