Netgear launches mesh Wi-Fi kit for small businesses

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Netgear launches mesh Wi-Fi kit for small businesses

The Orbi Pro simplifies whole-of-premises wireless installation and segregates different types of users.

We’ve written about mesh networks several times before, including a review of the original Netgear Orbi.

The basic idea is to improve Wi-Fi coverage in a building through the use of satellite access points that communicate with each other via a separate Wi-Fi network. That eliminates the need for fixed wiring, Powerline adaptors or Wi-Fi range extenders, all of which have drawbacks.

Entry-level mesh networks are quick and easy to install – all you need is a mains socket near the chosen location for each satellite.

While Mesh networks have been in the corporate world for some time, this year we’ve seen a flurry of mesh products designed for home use. Now Netgear has come up with a version intended specifically for small businesses.

The Orbi Pro provides three separate networks. The idea is that the Admin network is used to connect the business's own infrastructure, including servers, computers, VoIP devices, PoS terminals, and printers. It supports Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections.

The Employee network is intended for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments, and provides access to the internet but not to devices on the Admin network. There may be an argument for putting a printer on the Employee network.

The Guest network is there for customers and other visitors. It is isolated from the Admin and Employee networks, and provides time-limited internet access for guests’ convenience.

Up to 40 devices can be connected simultaneously to an Orbi Pro network.

“Many small businesses would find value in having Wi-Fi for their guests, employees and business systems, but the cost and complexity of setting up and managing such a network is beyond their means,” said Netgear senior product line manager for SMB Wi-Fi and security Nader Attar.

“The Orbi Pro tri-band Wi-Fi system guided install allows anyone to set up separate Wi-Fi for guests, employees and business traffic. The product is designed to complement office décor and sit unobtrusively anywhere or be mounted out-of-the-way.”

The $849 starter kit comprises one base unit and one satellite, with wall and ceiling mounts for both. The base unit has three available Ethernet ports, while the satellite has four. Additional satellites will be available at an as yet unannounced price.

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