Wednesday, 06 January 2016 14:28

MU-MIMO Wi-Fi means more speed to more devices

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Linksys EA9500 MU-MIMO and TRI-BAND Router Linksys EA9500 MU-MIMO and TRI-BAND Router

Linksys says MU-MIMO is the key to realising the full potential of the Wi-Fi 802.11ac spectrum especially as new end-point devices start to support it.

According to ABI Research more than 84% of end-point wireless 5GHz chipsets will be MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output) enabled by 2019. These will be widely used in smart TVs, laptops, smartphones, wearables, tablets, printers, home automation/security, and game consoles. In simple terms it allow endpoints to have a more direct, clear channel to the Wi-Fi router – the result is more dedicated speed over longer distances.

Linksys, a Belkin company, and a long term innovator in the consumer and small business networking field has announced at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a new range of MAX-STREAM, MU-MIMO routers, a range extender and a USB adaptor.

“Since video and audio streaming services launched in Australia, consumer behaviour has changed significantly. Australian’s have an insatiable appetite for on-demand video and audio services such as Netflix and Spotify”, said Greg Morrison, Business Manager, Linksys ANZ.

“According to Roy Morgan research, coined the ‘Netflix effect’, the rapidly expanding net penetration of the US-based Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) service has exceeded 100,000 Australian homes each month since launching locally in March 2015 and gives no signs of slowing. In September 2015, 2.63 million Australians 14+ live in homes with a Netflix subscription, and users are demanding a seamless experience,” he added.

“Our new line-up of Linksys MU-MIMO solutions provide the networking backbone to allow consumers to enjoy high-performance and simultaneous Wi-Fi, including speed, range, and coverage,” said Justin Doucette, director of product management, Linksys. “With the rise of 4K streaming and the growth of MU-MIMO clients, having the latest MU-MIMO technology is the best way to ensure users get the best Wi-Fi experience possible.”

Read on for preliminary information on these ‘need for speed’ devices.

Linksys MAX-STREAM AC5400 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router with MU-MIMO (EA9500)

This uses both MU-MIMO and Tri-Band that work together to deliver the same speed to multiple connected devices at up to 5.3 Gb/s. It is a high end router with sufficient power for the largest household or small business. It features:

  • 1.4 GHz Dual Core Processor
  • Tri-Band Wireless AC5400 (1000 Mbps 2.4Ghz + 2166 Mbps 5Ghz + 2166 Mbps 5GHz)
  • 802.11ac Wave 2, Mu-MIMO
  • 9 Gigabit Ethernet ports (8 LAN, 1 WAN) and USB 3.0, 2.0 ports
  • 8 external antennas for maximum coverage
  • WPA/WPA2 encryption and SPI firewall keep your network safely connected
  • Smart Wi-Fi app for remote access, control and troubleshooting

Price is A$549.95 and availability is from April 2016.

Linksys MAX-STREAM AC1900 Dual-Band MU-MIMO GIGABIT ROUTER (EA7500)

Raw speed is not always a necessity, especially for apartment dwellers and this provides MU-MIMO features:

  • Qualcomm IPQ 1.4GHz Dual Core Processor
  • 802.11ac Wave 2, MU-MIMO
  • Dual-band AC1900 Wireless speeds up to 1300 Mbps 5 GHz + 600 Mbps 2.4Ghz
  • 4 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, 1 Gigabit WAN and USB 3.0, 2.0 ports
  • Smart Wi-Fi app for remote access, control and troubleshooting

Price is $329.95 and availability from March 2016

Linksys MAX-STREAM AC1900+ MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE7000)

The first range extender with next generation AC Wave 2 technology - MU-MIMO, works with any Wi-Fi router however when paired with a MAX STREAM router it can provide even greater performance to Wi-Fi devices all around the home with seamless roaming. 

The combination of a MAX STREAM router and range extender creates a single network in the home with a single network name (SSID) so users can roam throughout their home without having to manually connect to the range extender.  The Linksys MAX STREAM Range Extender also features Spot Finder Technology (Patent Pending) to show users where to place the range extender using a mobile device for optimal performance. Crossband Technology maximises the simultaneous use of both bands, while Beamforming focuses and strengthens the Wi-Fi signal.  Additional features include:

  • Dual Band Wireless AC1900 - AC1733 + N300
  • 802.11ac Wave 2 includes MU-MIMO
  • Seamless Roaming
  • Crossband Technology
  • Plug-In Form factor
  • Multi-Mode – Repeater, Access Point
  • One Gigabit Ethernet Port

Price is $219.95 availability from June 2016

Linksys MAX-STREAM AC600 USB MU-MIMO Adapter (WUSB6100M)

This USB Adapter is the first MU-MIMO enabled adapter.  It enables users to connect their laptops and computers to a wireless-AC network as well as a MU-MIMO router for optimal performance, so users can easily stream high-definition video and enjoy high-speed gaming.  Additional features include:

  • AC Wave 2 - MU-MIMO (AC433 + N150)
  • Beamforming
  • USB 2.0
  • Plug ‘n Play with Simple Pairing
  • Works with Any Wi-Fi Router; Optimised with MAX-STREAM

Price is $59.95 and availability from June 2016

Linksys is completely rewriting its Smart Wi-Fi app as a cloud-based free service that comes with Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers.  Users can gain highly secure access to their home network from a browser, smartphone or tablet.

Users can prioritise which devices on the network get the most bandwidth to eliminate lag times and buffering.  New features include providing guest access and media prioritisation so the devices users want to have top priority for internet access can be done quickly on the app. The new user interface will be available for all Smart Wi-Fi router users.

Comment

I test a lot of routers and I can see the need for MU-MIMO and Wave 2 technologies – if only to give the ever growing IoT devices a fair go. Looking at a typical family of four there can feasibly be 30 or more connections covering:

  • PCs
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Smart TV
  • Smart wearables
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled music streaming speakers
  • A games console
  • Security system
  • Home automation
  • And more

To be blunt older Wi-Fi routers simply cannot handle the demands of a modern family. In tests using MU-MIMO and TRI-BAND it was not so much about the amazing speed increases (which were spectacular for 5GHz devices) but about the ability to provide the speed that each needs without affecting other users. For example, a gaming console may need more bandwidth and a wearable less.

MU-MIMO is not on many end-points at present so the addition of the range extender and USB dongle is significant - -the latter gives older devices that capability.

If you have an older Wi-Fi G or N standard router or cable gateway you will be amazed at the speed you can get.


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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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