This Netgear USB adapter adds plug-and-play Wi-Fi 6E to PCs

The big picture: Widespread adoption of Wi-Fi 7 is probably over a year away. Meanwhile, NETGEAR has come up with a new solution to make Wi-Fi 6E more accessible. The new adapter could help mitigate the strong headwinds the standard has faced since its inception.

NETGEAR recently introduced a USB adapter that makes Windows PCs compatible with Wi-Fi 6E networks. The attachment could boost bandwidth and connection reliability significantly while everyone waits for Wi-Fi 7, which tech companies have only recently been demonstrating.

The NETGEAR Nighthawk AXE3000 is a USB 3.0 (USB-A) dongle that can achieve speeds in excess of 1Gbps depending on network bandwidth. When paired with a Wi-Fi 6E router like the RBKE960 mesh router system that Netgear released last year, the AXE3000 can achieve 3Gbps. The dongle can also connect to Wi-Fi 6 when no 6E signal is available.

The AXE3000 has two modes. It can be plugged directly into a USB port for more compact operation. It also has a mount that connects to the computer with a cable. The dongle can be folded out in the holder for better antenna coverage.

Wi-Fi 6E is essentially Wi-Fi 6 with added access to the new 6GHz spectrum for more bandwidth. Unfortunately, interest in Wi-Fi 6E has been lukewarm for a number of reasons.

The main problem is that the standard was introduced just in time for pandemic shocks in the supply chain, making manufacturing Wi-Fi 6E hardware a challenge. In addition, the IEEE has not yet fully established the 6 GHz standards. Most device manufacturers will stick with reliable Wi-Fi 6 until Wi-Fi 7 is ready.

Final IEEE approval of the Wi-Fi 7 specifications could come in 2024, which is also the earliest date that Intel expects Wi-Fi 7 desktops and laptops to launch. MediaTek ran one of the first Wi-Fi 7 demos at CES in January. Earlier this month, Intel and Broadcom demonstrated cross-manufacturer compatibility of the upcoming specification, achieving speeds of up to 5 Gbps. Wi-Fi 7 should reach 5.8 Gbps while maintaining more stable simultaneous connections across a larger number of devices than Wi-Fi 6.

NETGEAR hasn’t given a price or release date, so those interested in the AXE3000 can sign up for alerts on its store page. This Netgear USB adapter adds plug-and-play Wi-Fi 6E to PCs

Chris Barrese

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