Tech DeKoded — Wireless routers caught speeding

TP-Link AD7200

A wireless router is perhaps the most ‘unappreciated’ gadget at your home. And most probably, it is also the ugliest — typically a dark box with couple of antennas jutting out, and a bunch of wires snaking away. And yes, a row of lights blinking away.
But that router also happens to be the key backbone of your connected life, plus a wall that keeps your myriad devices safe from outside attacks. And as smart devices proliferate, the role of the router will become increasingly critical.
WiFi Alliance announces HaLowIn fact, at CES 2016, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced the 802.11ah HaLow technology, meant specifically for smart homes buzzing and beeping with connected devices. It operates at the lower 900MHz frequency, and has double the range of standard Wi-Fi. HaLow is also “generally more robust in challenging environments where physical and electronic impediments such as walls and other electronics are obstacles”.
Linksys AC5400 routerAlso at CES 2016, Linksys showcased the AC5400 router, which leverages MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output) and Tri-Band technologies for more efficient Wi-Fi and blazingly fast speeds of up to 5.3Gbps (well, at least in theory). So streaming 4K videos around the house should be a breeze. The router also comes with 8 LAN ports, instead of the usual four. However, if you find the double or triple antenna configuration on current routers to be an aesthetic assault on your home, well, this one has eight antennas! We guess that’s the price one has to pay for high-speed wireless transfers.
TP-Link AD7200But Linksys was not the only one at CES 2016, with a super-fast router. TP-Link unveiled the Talon AD7200, which claims to be the world’s first 802.11ad WiGig router — it uses the 60GHz spectrum to deliver wireless speeds of up to 4.6Gbps, but only over a short distance of a few meters. And yes, this one too has eight antennas, but they neatly fold into special grooves.
Portal routerBut perhaps the most interesting device on display was the Portal router, which claims to be the “biggest breakthrough in WiFi in 15 years”. It solve “the growing problem of scarce spectrum, overcrowding and interference that make WiFi slow, inconsistent, and unreliable” by utilising six channels on the 5GHz frequency, instead of the usual two. The router also connects with a “cloud-based traffic controller” that figures out the “best frequency allocations and radio settings to reduce the effects of congestion on you by as much as 300X”.
Of course, when it comes to wireless routers, specs and claims can be deceiving — real-world performance is the only thing that matters. But it already looks like 2016 will be a significant year and a generational leap for router tech. So if you are in the market for one, our advice would be to future-proof your investment with at 2016 model that can handle your growing demands for years to come.