Netgear: Enterprise and consumer gear blends as we work from home
January 11, 2021
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Netgear is announcing a bunch of new business networking products at CES 2021, the big consumer tech trade show that is online-only this year. You heard that right.

The consumer networking gear maker has a whole lineup of small and medium business (SMB) products to show at the virtual CES event. It’s a sign that CES has grown to represent all technology, not just consumer products. And 25-year-old Netgear does business with 15 million companies, in addition to consumers.

“There are more and more crossovers of business application products being shown at CES,” said Doug Cheung, senior product line manager for wireless and storage, in an interview with VentureBeat. “And this year, you’ll see a new crop of products that address working from home needs. For better or worse, people are being forced to work from home, and that paradigm shift is going to become permanent in the years to come.”

The products focus on such trends as the permanence of working from home, Wi-Fi’s rapid adoption and the unending need for more speed and coverage, and the growth of video over the networks. For business users in the home, Netgear has routers and accompanying satellites that boost range, switches for wired connections, and high-performance Wi-Fi.

Above: You can place your Wi-Fi 6 access points on the ceiling.

Image Credit: Netgear

These products are the things that help us keep up with the need for more bandwidth and solid internet connections. Gigabit Ethernet speeds are common now, and 5G products and fiber rollouts are coming along. They’re all in short supply.

“You see a huge surge of demand,” Cheung said. “It’s almost like a perfect storm. China is in a scramble to get as many chips as they can get their hands on. You have a surge from people working from home. We still see that demand unabated. Supply constraints won’t ease well into the middle of 2021.”

Netgear is showing its WAX610 and WAX610Y indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi 6 access points, with speeds of 2.5 gigabits per second. They have built-in WPA3 security. By adding more security features, Netgear can help make home products as secure as enterprise products.

The company also has Wi-Fi 6 access points with local management and a new family of Netgear Plus switches for plugging wired devices into the network.

Above: One of Netgear’s newest switches.

Image Credit: Netgear

Netgear also has its Netgear Insight 6.0 software to manage devices in multiple locations from a single management panel. And it has new gaming routers, Wi-Fi 6 Orbi network extension devices and cable modems with Wi-Fi 6.

The Orbi Pro WiFi 6 (SXK80) Tri-band Mesh System is considered an “office in a box” for the home — with a router, switch, and Wi-Fi access point in one device. Satellites can also extend the range of the network throughout a home while maintaining high speeds.

Netgear has refreshed its product line for Wi-Fi 6 networking to help get around bottlenecks in the home, and it has repurposed enterprise products for the home and created brand-new products for the home.

“It’s like your cubicle is in your home now,” Netgear product marketing director Alexandra Méhat said in an interview.

Netgear's Nighthawk RAXE500 Tri-band Wi-Fi router.

Above: Netgear’s Nighthawk RAXE500 Tri-band Wi-Fi router.

Image Credit: Netgear

The Nighthawk Pro Gaming RAXE500 Tri-band Wi-Fi Router can transfer data at up to 10.8 gigabits per second, and it leverages software to optimize internet connectivity so you can play games without as much lag.

It uses Wi-Fi 6 and the new 6GHz spectrum that is now available for Wi-Fi signals. That gives it 200% more available spectrum than dual-band 5GHz and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi.

“We also see applications are becoming more bandwidth-hungry,” Netgear product management director Ravindra Bhilave said in an interview. “4K is pretty common nowadays — pretty much every TV has 4K, and there is a lot of content available. 8K TVs are not far behind. Wi-Fi 6 is great for more efficient and higher bandwidth, but it still has limitations. 5GHz channels are crowded. 6GHz has opened up, and it is much cleaner and higher in bandwidth.”

But the 6GHz band only works with new products that are designed for it right now.

Netgear also has consumer products coming, including 5G hotspot devices that can give you more security, as well as an alternative broadband connection in case your standard wired connection gets too crowded or goes down, Bhilave said. About 42 million people in the U.S. still don’t have good internet, he said.

“As a backup, you will kick this in only when your internet connection doesn’t work,” he said.

The 5G Mobile Hotspot Netgear launched with AT&T last year can handle Wi-Fi 6 and switch over to the more costly mobile 5G network when necessary.

If you can’t use 5G, it also has 4G LTE alternatives in the form of the Nighthawk 4G LTE WiFi 6 Router and the Netgear 4G LTE Modem.

“It will optimally use cellular broadband only when needed,” Bhilave said.

Netgear also showed off its latest Netgear Smart Parental Controls tech. It’s a simple way for parents to manage, monitor, and control the content their young children and teens see online. It is an efficient management system for supervising children across all the devices they use within a single household.

Smart Parental Controls gives parents data on their kids’ activity — from usage time to website history — so they can have a healthy discussion and build long-term skills for managing their online activities.

A companion app called My Time lets kids manage their own screen time based on parents’ rules.

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