Tuesday, 29 March 2016 09:16

Linksys MU-MIMO for multiple Wi-Fi devices


The big trend in routers is to Wave 2, beamforming, multi-user, multiple input/multiple output, because essentially each MU-MIMO end-point has its own direct link to the router.

To use an analogy, each car has its own 5GHz super-highway and because there is no congestion it can travel up to two times faster. The rest of the traffic is usually in the congested 2.4GHz band.

Of course, there is a limit to the number of dedicated highways, so these need (a) to have MU-MIMO end-point like many recent smartphones, gaming consoles or streaming devices and (b) depending on the router it may support up to 8 x 8 MU-MIMO channels

Linksys has released a Max Stream, AC1900, EA7500 MU-MIMO home router that is ideal for apartment dwellers who want to stream things like 4K TV.

The Next-Gen Max-Stream AC1900 can provide users with combined speeds up to 1.9 Gbps (in theory – it is how routers are named - 600Mbps x 2.4GHz plus 1300Mbps x 5GHz).

EA7500 specifications include

  • 802.11ac, Wave 2, MU-MIMO for uninterrupted Wi-Fi connections to multiple devices at the same time
  • 3 x 3 antenna (so three speed hogging devices can have their own highway)
  • Supports up to 12 endpoints
  • Qualcomm IPQ 1.4GHz Dual Core Processor
  • Dual-band AC1900 Wireless speeds up to 1300 Mbps 5 GHz + 600 Mbps 2.4GHz
  • Four Gigabit LAN Ethernet ports
  • One Gigabit WAN port (to connect to a cable router)
  • One USB 3.0 and One USB 2.0 ports for connecting printers, storage and more
  • Three external and adjustable antennas for maximum coverage
  • Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app to manage and monitor the network
  • Advanced WPA/WPA2 encryption and SPI firewall
  • No ADSL modem or Cable gateway - the WAN port is used to connect to that device
  • A$329.95

“Netflix cemented itself in more than a million Australian households last year, and as more and more Australians adopt subscription streaming services in 2016, and demands on home Wi-Fi increase, the Max-Stream router is the perfect solution for home harmony,” said Greg Morrison, business unit director, Linksys ANZ.

Just a note on AC speeds

To be fair to all router makers, AC ratings are highly theoretical and relate to maximum combined band throughput from the router to the end-points like Xbox, notebooks, tablets, etc.

While modern end-point devices may support dual band, MU-MIMO, Wave 2, etc., the maximum speed from the router to end point they are likely to get will be somewhere around 100Mbps, and that is generally faster than your internet speed.

In Australia many suffer from appalling broadband speeds:

  • ADSL, 2, and 2+ achieve a maximum of 20Mbps and users typically get around 10-12Mbps although if you live further away from the Exchange, or in rural and regional areas, you will get less than 5Mbps.
  • Cable Broadband (typically BigPond) can go as high as 100Mbps but the vast majority are on a 30Mbps maximum plan (typically providing a minimum of 20Mbps).
  • If you are lucky enough to have NBN fibre, you should get a guaranteed speed. Most consumers select 25Mbps although higher speeds are available at much higher costs.
  • Satellite is also available at up to 25Mbps although most only average 12Mbps.

The real reason for buying a blazingly fast router is for ‘coverage’ – large homes, mixed construction materials, more IoT devices to attach, and the need to make maximum use of the external internet speed you have.

You will see speeds up to AC5300, but the reality is that they all use the aggregated naming. An AC1900 MU-MIMO device will perform as well as an AC5300 in an apartment or small home where there are a smaller number of Wi-Fi devices – it supports up to 12.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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