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TP-Link’s first Wi-Fi 6E routers are coming this year

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Plus a smart speaker in a mesh router

Archer AX206 router.
Image: TP-Link

TP-Link is announcing its first routers with support for Wi-Fi 6E, a huge new upgrade to Wi-Fi that quadruples the available airwaves for faster speeds and more reliable connections. The first four routers it’s announcing include a pair of mesh Wi-Fi systems and two high-end single-unit routers, including one that supports 10 Gbps speeds.

Wi-Fi 6E routers add a third band of Wi-Fi — so in addition to 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections, there’ll now be a 6GHz network. That network will be significantly larger, too, which should mean less congestion and more potential for faster speeds.

TP-Link is planning to introduce two mesh Wi-Fi routers with support for Wi-Fi 6E this year. The Deco X96 and Deco X76 Plus are both tri-band systems, and they’ll use the new 6GHz network as a backhaul to communicate between router notes. That should make for a sturdier and quicker backhaul than traditional tri-band mesh networks, which rely on the smaller 5GHz band as both a backhaul and a way to communicate with devices.

Deco X96 mesh routers.
Image: TP-Link

There is one downside, though: when you eventually buy phones, laptops, and other devices that support 6GHz Wi-Fi connections, these systems will only connect to them over traditional (and likely slower) 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks since the 6GHz network is being used by the routers themselves. The X96 promises speeds up to 7800 Mbps. The X76 goes up to 5400 Mbps and also includes a built-in Zigbee radio to support smart home gadgets.

If you want to connect directly to devices over 6GHz Wi-Fi, that’s what TP-Link’s two other upcoming routers are for. The Archer AX96 and Archer AX206 are both tri-band routers, but because they aren’t mesh systems, that 6GHz band is free to connect with individual devices. The X96 tops out at 7800 Mbps, and the X206 is supposed to reach 10 Gbps, should your internet connection somehow be fast enough to support it.

Archer AX96 router.
Image: TP-Link

Prices for the four routers haven’t been announced yet. The first units are expected to start shipping in the third quarter of the year.

TP-Link is also announcing a few other products today. The Deco Voice X20 is a Wi-Fi 6 (not 6E) mesh router that doubles as an Alexa-enabled smart speaker (a clever idea but one that other companies have explored already) and is launching in the coming months. There’s also the Deco X80-5G, a gateway for using 5G as your home internet that doubles as a Wi-Fi 6 router. TP-Link is also announcing a number of new smart home gadgets under its Kasa brand, including a smart doorbell and a motion-activated switch.