Wi-Fi 6E routers and devices are now becoming commonplace in the market, which means it’s time to switch things up for consumers with a new standard: Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be). While a few Wi-Fi 7 routers are on the market, they are a pricey bunch, with TP-Link’s cheapest entry, the Archer BE800, retailing for $600. However, Netgear is taking Wi-Fi 7 router pricing into the stratosphere with its feature-packed Orbi 970 Series.
The Orbi 970 mesh router and accompanying satellites fully leverage one of the highlights of Wi-Fi 7, Multi-Link Operation (MLO). With Wi-Fi 6E or earlier routers, a client can only connect to a single band (2.4GHz, 5GHz, or 6GHz) at a time. However, MLO allows a Wi-Fi 7 client to connect to all three bands simultaneously. The new feature promises increased performance, lower latency and improved reliability thanks to packet duplication via multiple links.
Netgear leverages MLO technology for its wireless backhaul between the router and its satellites. The Orbi 970 combines the 5GHz and 6GHz bands to create a faster 10 Gbps wireless backhaul between the router and satellites, along with lower latency. Many enthusiasts with mesh routers prefer a wired backhaul for the absolute best performance across large spaces. However, Netgear’s MLO-infused solution should help close the performance gap between wireless and wired backhauls for those unwilling (or unable) to run cables through their walls.
The Orbi 970, of course, supports all the tenants of Wi-Fi 7, including an expansion of channels to 320 MHz, 4K QAM and preamble puncturing. Netgear also promises a maximum wireless signal rate of 27 Gbps.
The Orbi 970 router features a 10 Gbps WAN/Internet port to handle today’s fastest fiber-based ISPs and a 10 Gbps LAN port. Netgear also provides four 2.5 Gbps LAN ports. Each satellite offers one 10 Gbps port and four 2.5 Gbps ports.
Software and services running on a router are nearly as essential as the underlying hardware, so a one-year subscription to the Netgear Armor security suite is provided with the Orbi 970. A basic subscription to Netgear Smart Parental Controls is also included for free. However, a 30-day trial to the premium functionality is provided.
Now for the bad news: the Orbi 970 will take a massive bite out of your wallet. The basic Orbi 970 system with one router and one satellite costs $1,699. If you opt for a router and two satellites, the price jumps to an eye-watering $2,299, providing up to 10,000 square feet of coverage. Each additional satellite costs $899. The mesh router system is currently available directly from Netgear.com and will soon find its way to major retailers.