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‘30’ and New Routers

Thirty seems to be the magic number for wireless devices connected to your Wi-Fi network. Many homes can easily have 30 or more devices and getting proper signals to all of them can be like trying to squeeze 10 lanes of traffic into four. Moving to a router that encompasses Wi-Fi 6 capabilities is an electronic way to expand your in-home “information superhighway” to the 10 lanes you need for your devices perform as designed.

Accommodating 30 wireless devices is hardly overkill. In fact, it may be the minimum capacity for the average home. Think about what you might have and what you could have.

At last count, we have 64 wireless devices in our home, including our mailbox. Yes, the USPS mailbox that’s located at the bottom of our steep driveway. I really don’t feel like making several trips down to the street – and back up the driveway – just to see if the mail has been delivered. I can also remotely see every time the mailbox is opened, which can alert us to possible theft.

Even without a connected mailbox, many homes have Alexa devices or smart speakers in multiple rooms, or you may have Sonos speakers in multiple rooms tied to your entertainment center. If you’ve cut the cable cord, you’re streaming video to TVs or other devices – many of them in 4K. Family and friends could be using the internet simultaneously from your network on computers, tablets or phones, and then you may have number of smart devices for home security and convenience. Oh, don’t forget that 5G cellular standards are just around the corner, and they’ll generate a lot more traffic on your network.

If we learned anything from the movie Back to the Future, it’s that you can never anticipate where technology can go. Things that were thought to be way into the future then have been commonplace for several years.

Wi-Fi 6 comes with several upgrades that will significantly improve wireless capabilities. In operation, they improve efficiency by dividing the allotted radio spectrum into smaller units and adding new data channels to handle even more data. Other enhancements include smarter traffic management and less wasted battery life on connected devices. As a result, you’ll get better wireless connectivity, smoother performance and faster speeds for every device on your network.

You can expect the individual changes in Wi-Fi 6 to add up to a maximum throughput of over 10Gbps under ideal conditions. Right now, we consider 1Gbps to be the gold standard. Wi-Fi 6 will be able to keep a step ahead of the diversity of devices in homes to allow simultaneous 4K video streaming, gaming and use by a wide variety of smart home products, such as door locks, thermostats and remotely controlled light switches. And if you have a house full of gamers, we don’t need to tell you how bigger, faster Wi-Fi networks can make life better.

As our population advances, Wi-Fi 6 could even lead to more devices and systems that can help the elderly age in place in their homes. And it could make artificial intelligence (AI) a more effective enhancement for new technological tools. Who knows where it could lead?

As we write this, Wi-Fi 6 routers are just coming on the market – with Wi-Fi 7 lurking in the wings. Here are some router replacement tips to help you take advantage of the still-new Wi-Fi 6 technology.

First, think about if you really need it now. Most of the devices you now have may not be able to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6, even though it will improve your network’s performance. If you don’t find your devices are choking your network, you could wait. There’s also pricing. Even though you’ll see a lot of “special” prices during the holiday shopping season, prices are likely to come down later.

Second, even though the new routers are fast, their speed is still limited by the speed your ISP (internet service provider) delivers. It’s like having a really great road and a not-so-fast car. You won’t be able to go fast enough to take advantage of the possible thrills and chills.

Third, look for things like mesh net capability, the number of ports and the speeds of the ports. Then, try to imagine the number of devices you might add in the next few years and what you’ll ask them to do. You’ll need to think about those things to do a more accurate cost/benefit analysis.

Finally, consider the age of your current router. If it’s more than five years old, it may not be able to support better security measures, and that may be a more important consideration than pure speed.

We can help you decide about your router and replacement options. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your needs.