Netgear has been slowly building up its Wi-Fi 6 business portfolio over the last couple of years. Today, the company is launching its flagship SMB access point in its Insight-managed series - the WAX630. The consumer Wi-Fi market segment has received extra focus over the last year or so with the onset of the pandemic-induced work-from-home (WFH) trend. As businesses move towards reopening in many parts of the world, there is bound to be an investment in upgrading the networking infrastructure of many SMB / microbusinesses to gear up for the increased workloads. Netgear is hoping to ride this upgrade wave to increase the market share of its Insight-based networking equipment in the SMB market.

In 2020, Netgear released the Orbi SXK80 and the WAX610 AP to introduce Wi-Fi 6 into their SMB portfolio. The company has been far more busy this year, with the launch of the WAX214 AX1800 and WAX218 AX3600 APs under the Essentials brand, the Orbi SXK30 AX1800 mini and the WAX620 AX3600 Insight-managed AP back in March. Today's WAX630 launch rounds off its launches for the first half of 2021.

The WAX630 is the new flagship, and builds upon the 802.3at as well as 2.5GBASE-T support of the WAX610 and WAX620. A second wired LAN port (GbE) is included. It supports up to 600 active clients with 100 concurrent devices. The coverage area is also more, coming it at 3500 sq. ft. compared to 2500 for the WAX610 and 3000 for the WAX620. This tri-band solution (2x 5GHz + 1x 2.4 GHz 4x4) comes under the AX6000 class (1200 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band and 2 x 2400 Mbps in the 5GHz one), pointing to the use of a Qualcomm chipset. The lack of full 160 MHz support is not a big deal in this market segment, at least not until Wi-Fi 6E becomes more widespread.

Almost all SMB and enterprise Wi-Fi solutions are enabled with cloud-management. This greatly simplifies management on-the-go by IT administrators. However, this carries a premium for the additional firmware features and cloud servers maintenance from the vendor's perspective. Netgear's business lineup also includes an 'Essentials' product line that does away with the app and cloud-based management for a lower price point.

On the Orbi Pro front, one of the challenges for market acceptance has been the pricing due to its multi-device nature. The SXK80 was introduced last year at $770 for a router and a satellite. Last month, the SXK30 Orbi Pro Wi-Fi 6 Mini was introduced at $300 for a pair. To meet this price point, the SXK30 does away with the second 5GHz band and the 2.5GBASE-T port. The coverage area and capacity metrics are also a notch lower than the SXK80.

In SMB Wi-Fi, the focus is not on peak throughput - rather, security and reliability are primary concerns. Scalability and ease of management come in a close second. With their current portfolio of products and suggested pricing structure, Netgear is carving a niche for itself in this market segment. While not going head-to-head against the Cisco Merakis and Arubas, it does need to compete against other vendors such as Ubiquiti Networks, Linksys Business, EnGenius, and the like. However, none of these vendors seem to have a product in the market currently to go head-to-head against the WAX630's specifications. It will be interesting to track how the market evolves over the coming months. The WAX630 is priced at $330 and available for purchase today.

Source: Netgear

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  • jeremyshaw - Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - link

    > Compete against other vendors such as ... EnGenius

    Looks at FCC ID of WAX 214, 218, 610, 620 - AJ8 grantee code. Not much competing, then.
    WAX 630 is PY3 though. That is Netgear.
  • notashill - Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - link

    Is there any way to configure these without the cloud management or do they just become useless if you stop paying the subscription/the servers eventually shut down?
  • jaggis - Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - link

    You can use WAX610, WAX620 and WAX630 as standalone AP.
    You use local UI to configure and manage the each AP.

    Insight subscription is optional. The AP come with 1 year subscriptions if you want to try.
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  • monglerbongler - Saturday, July 10, 2021 - link

    its 2021.

    I would rather know if there are meaningful distinctions between the hardware/firmware at play in consumer/SOHO type routers or if the industry is still operating as it has done by selling varations of maybe 2-3 different chipsets, but with different GUIs for the firmware (Ironically, there seems to be more legitimate hardware variations in OEM cable modem/router combos than in high end SOHO routers)
  • sonicmerlin - Sunday, July 11, 2021 - link

    Isn’t 802.11ax supposed to be 1.5x more spectrally efficient? How come there there’s almost no difference in the product advertised speeds? 1800AX vs 1800 AC for example
  • RSAUser - Sunday, July 11, 2021 - link

    Real-world speeds are pretty similar unless in e.g. apartment environment and lots of devices connected. The bandwidth hasn't really changed much.
  • sonicmerlin - Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - link

    But it’s supposed to be more efficient with spectrum, with a 50% boost in speed
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