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This Netgear USB adapter adds plug-and-play Wi-Fi 6E to PCs

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The Big Picture: It could take more than a year for Wi-Fi 7 to be widely adopted. Meanwhile, Netgear has a new solution designed to make Wi-Fi 6E even more accessible. The new transformer could help mitigate the strong headwinds the standard has faced since its introduction.

Netgear recently introduced a USB adapter that makes Windows PCs compatible with Wi-Fi 6E networks. The facility can significantly boost bandwidth and connection reliability while everyone waits for Wi-Fi 7, which tech companies have recently started offering.

Netgear Nighthawk AXE3000 is a USB 3.0 (USB-A) dongle that can reach speeds in excess of 1 Gbps, depending on network bandwidth. When paired with a Wi-Fi 6E router like the RBKE960 Netgear Mesh Router released last year, the AXE3000 can reach up to 3Gbps. The dongle can also be connected to Wi-Fi 6 if no 6E signal is available.

AXE3000 has two modes. For more compact operation, it can be connected directly to the USB port. It also has a stand that connects to the computer with a cable. While in the cradle, the dongle folds up for better antenna coverage.

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Wi-Fi 6E is essentially Wi-Fi 6 with additional access to the new 6GHz spectrum for increased bandwidth. Unfortunately, interest in Wi-Fi 6E has been lukewarm for several reasons.

The main problem is that the standard launched just in time for the pandemic supply chain shocks, making Wi-Fi 6E hardware difficult to manufacture. Furthermore, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has not completely finalized the 6 GHz standards. Most device makers stick with reliable Wi-Fi 6 until Wi-Fi 7 is ready.

Final IEEE approval of the Wi-Fi 7 specification could occur in 2024, which is also the first thing Intel expects to have Wi-Fi 7-capable desktops and laptops on the market. MediaTek conducted one of its first Wi-Fi 7 demos at CES in January. Intel and Broadcom demonstrated cross-vendor compatibility for the upcoming specs earlier this month, hitting speeds of up to 5Gbps. Wi-Fi 7 should reach 5.8Gbps while maintaining more stable simultaneous connections across more devices than Wi-Fi 6.

Netgear hasn’t provided a price or release date, so those interested in the AXE3000 can sign up for notifications on its store page.

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