[REVIEW] : Wi-Fi 6E: the quad-band Netgear Orbi system available in France

The first quad-band Wi-Fi 6E system, dubbed the sweet name of Netgear Orbi RBKE963, is now available in France. What has changed since its presentation in October? The publication of a decision opening “the 5945-6425 MHz band for wireless access systems”, that is to say the 6 GHz band used by Wi-Fi 6E, in France.

Manufacturers were on the starting blocks: the European Commission opened a block of 480 MHz in the 6 GHz band, and launched the deployment of Wi-Fi 6, more than a year after the opening of a block of 1200 MHz in the United States. France waited until the last moment to transcribe European regulations, which strictly limit the transmission power of compatible devices, to avoid any risk of interference.

Netgear had therefore been chomping at the bit, presenting the RBKE963 system in the United States and the United Kingdom, while waiting to be able to market it elsewhere. This first quad-band system transmits on the good old 2.4 GHz band, on the 5 GHz band, and therefore the new 6 GHz band. These bands offer an aggregate bandwidth of 10.8 Gb/s…more than the capabilities of the 10 Gb/s WAN ingress.

The router and satellites have a 2.5 Gb/s Ethernet port, as well as three 1 Gb/s Ethernet ports, and communicate with a dedicated backhaul on the 5 GHz band1. A 2.2 GHz quad-core processor is responsible for orchestrating the twelve antennas – beamforming, MU-MIMO, WPA-3, and other acronyms are obviously in the game.

All this costs the modest sum of € 1,699.99 for a pack comprising a router and two satellites, which should cover 800 m², and manage more than two hundred devices. In addition to the traditional white underlined by blue LEDs, Netgear offers a black “limited edition” on its store. The first units will be delivered at the very beginning of next year.

Netgear Orbi Mesh Wifi 6E Quad Band: A powerful system, ready for the future, but not cheap

Never three without four bands. Netgear is enhancing its line of Orbi routers with a new version: the Orbi WiFi 6E Quad Band Mesh System (RBKE960 series). It now offers the brand new 6 GHz wifi band with Quad Band technology to promise significantly higher speeds, to more devices at the same time.

Netgear announces nothing less than multi-Gigabit Internet connection for the whole house. The other promise is the assurance of having less interference and even lower latency times.

MORE MULTI-GIGABIT USES POSSIBLE AT HOME

It is therefore to meet an increasingly important need for equipment due to teleworking, increasingly important digital uses (thanks to streaming and online video games in particular) and the rise of home automation. with multiple devices piling up Netgear is already pulling out its Quad Band device. And this, shortly after releasing its Mesh Wifi 6 Tri Band router that we had tested and greatly appreciated.

But this time, Orbi goes even further and faster. It embeds the future Wifi 6E standard to respond to the increasingly fast connections offered. It is this 4th band to accommodate wifi at 6 GHz that is added to the previous Tri Band model to give birth to the Orbi Wifi 6E Quad Band. The router will thus better respond to the multi-Gigabit uses of your future smartphones or laptops which will want to connect at the same time to an already busy wifi network. The 6 GHz wifi band offers more than double the 5 GHz bandwidth.

This will also have the merit of limiting interference with devices taking advantage of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz connections. And the latter will also benefit from a wider network coverage (up to 800 m² for the pack of 3 modules), but also from improved speeds of up to 30%.

On the design side, if the exterior remains faithful to refined habits, the architecture of the new Orbi Wifi 6E, router and satellites, has been redesigned at the level of the wifi antennas and the radio to transmit even better and further. They support an incoming speed of up to 10.8 Gb/s in Ethernet, the highest at the moment. They embed Ethernet ports for a wired connection up to 2.5 Gb/s for devices supporting multi-Gigabit Ethernet. A black version “Black Edition” will be available in limited edition.

As for security, Netgear announces that its Mesh Orbi system supports WAP3 security with 128-bit encryption. And you always benefit from a 30-day trial of the Netgear Armor service (with Bitdefender) to protect your connected objects.

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY OF THE ORBI WIFI 6TH QUAD BAND

The new Orbi Wifi 6E kit comes in a 3-pack (RBKE963) with a router and two satellites. It is in pre-order on the Netgear site at a price of 1,699 euros. Deliveries are scheduled for January 2022.

10.8 Gb / s and wifi

The wireless part therefore breaks down as follows: 1200 Mb/s on the 2.4 GHz band, 2400 Mb/s for each 5 GHz band and 4800 Mb/s for the 6 GHz frequency band, i.e. a speed cumulative of 10.8 Gb/s hence the name of this Orbi kit. 12 antennas, whose layout and revised design, are implemented in each module, allowing, according to the manufacturer, to extend the range by 30% on the 5 GHz band.

The new layout of the antennas and their number forced Netgear to review the size of the modules. They therefore measure 28 x 19 x 8.3 cm, which is a little more than 5.5 cm in height and 2 cm in width than the Orbi RBK352 kit that we tested recently.

The American manufacturer has also gone back little on the initial promise of the Orbi, namely a single SSID (wifi network name), it will now be possible to dissociate the SSIDs to dedicate, for example, the 2.4 GHz band to your connected objects (camera, bulbs, locks, etc.) which sometimes have difficulties with the single SSID of the Orbi and distribute your connected peripherals according to the frequency band most suited to their use. A function that we hope to see arrive on the other Orbi kits via an update of their firmware.

Availability in France is subject to authorization by the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications, Posts and Press Distribution (Arcep) for the use of the 6 GHz band for the general public, authorization which should take place by the end of the year. The price matches the performance: €1699 for the 3-module version (RBKE963) and €699 for the satellite alone. For Europe a version with two modules (RBKE962) will also be available, the price is currently unknown. Finally if you are tired of white, Netgear offers a Black Edition on its online store at the same price.

A price that limits somewhere the interest of this kit for the general French public. Because even if we are aware that the RBKE963 represents the cream of wifi systems, we are not sure that the person will be ready to pay such a crazy sum to replace the wifi of his box. As for the professional public, it is clearly not targeted with this range whose options are more limited than on the professional variants. In short, although the technical promise is attractive, it is not with this Orbi that Netgear will convince an audience that too often finds it difficult to wish to spend more than a hundred euros to upgrade its home wifi.

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