Netgear Orbi 970 powers up with speedy Wi-Fi 7 tech

Netgear Orbi 970 launch Australia
Image: supplied.

Adding Wi-Fi 7 to its mesh line-up, Netgear has announced the Orbi 970 series, an imposing network device for the most internet-hungry households.

If you’re coming from something like the Orbi 860, you’ll notice a huge difference. Anything using Wi-Fi 6 technology or earlier uses two network bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. A third and faster 6GHz band came with Wi-Fi 6E, but Wi-Fi 7 takes things further.

Designed for larger homes, a three-unit Netgear Orbi 970 mesh system covers areas as big as 660 square metres, supporting up to 200 devices. In addition to Wi-Fi 7 enabling a wider 320MHz channel for the 6GHz band, it also uses a technology called Multi-Link Operation (MLO). MLO lets compatible devices talk across the 5GHz and 6GHz bands simultaneously, bolstering speeds and connection quality if you move out of range.

Netgear Orbi 970 wi-fi 7 mesh router
They’re big units, so make sure you’ve got enough space. Image: supplied.

Although MLO technology is used across other Wi-Fi 7 devices, Netgear has an ace up its sleeve. Using MLO’s multi-band capability, the Orbi 970 have an Enhanced Dedicated Backhaul, intended to boost the connection between mesh units. By combining the high-speed bands, it produces a 10Gbps wireless backhaul between the router and satellite units, doubling the previously possible capacity.

There are also plenty of ports for wired connections, which is handy when using a streaming device like the PlayStation Portal. On the main router unit, you’ll find five Ethernet ports, including one capable of 10Gbps speeds, and four 2.5Gbps ports. Each satellite device that connects to the router has a 10Gbps port plus two 2.5Gbps ports.

Netgear Orbi 970 is a big investment

Pre-orders for Netgear’s latest mesh system are live now, so get ready for the price tag. A single satellite unit costs $1,599, while a three-pack – including a router and two satellites – is $4,299.

Wi-Fi 7 technology may be new and expensive, but that’s still a decent chunk of cash. For comparison, the TP-Link BE85 mesh system costs just under $3K for a three-unit kit. However, the Orbi 970 does have a higher total speed capacity of 27Gbps versus the BE85’s 22Gbps.

Not many devices support Wi-Fi 7 technology yet. You’ll find it in various high-end devices like the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Google Pixel 8 Pro, but not much else. Wi-Fi 7 is rolling out across premium laptops, with the wireless technology still a while away from being ubiquitous.

For those keen to be at the cutting edge of technology, with disposable income to boot, there is plenty of future-proofing potential up for grabs. Mesh systems as powerful as the Orbi 970 provide a stable networking solution that doesn’t rely on running wires all throughout your house. Which, in some cases, might require costly renovations.

Australian internet also lags behind the rest of the world, including our New Zealand neighbours. Although NBN speed increases are on the horizon, residential multi-gigabit speeds are a while away.

Wi-Fi 7 still has its place, supporting stable traffic between many devices at the same time, and overall network stability. For now, it’s mainly best suited to homes with the fastest internet speeds and all the latest gear.

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