Aruba announces new Wi-Fi 6 certified router designed for SMBs

The new 802.11ax router uses Aruba's Instant On platform, which is designed to make Wi-Fi setup nearly instant via a mobile app.

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Image: Hewlett Packard Enterprises

Enterprise network hardware company Aruba has announced a new Wi-Fi 6 certified router, the AP22.

Aruba is a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company and the AP22 isn't the first of Aruba's Wi-Fi 6 devices, but it is the first Wi-Fi 6 AP in the Instant On portfolio, and it is designed for ease of setup. The AP22 is designed for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). 

"Aruba's mission with Instant On has been to give small businesses the tools and technology to deliver exceptional wireless experiences to their customers and improved efficiencies to their employees through world-class connectivity solutions," Aruba said in a press release.

Aruba's Instant On hardware is designed to be set up with a mobile application for iOS and Android, which the company said makes it simple for even non-tech professionals to set up—something of renewed importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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"For those organizations that have had to realign or shift their modes of working in response to the current business climate ... this additional capacity provides an added safety net to ensure that operations continue to run smoothly," Aruba said.

Aruba lists the key features of the AP22 as being consistent with Wi-Fi 6 features like MU-MIMO, OFDMA, TWT, simultaneous band usage, and overall faster speeds. Other key features it lists include easy integration with other Instant On indoor and outdoor APs, central management via app or web portal, mesh networking capabilities, and Aruba's own Advanced Cellular Coexistence, which can reportedly reduce interference for cell networks and distributed antenna systems.

Aruba is also expanding marketing and analytics features to the AP22 through partner companies Aislelabs, Purple, SkyFii, Wavespot, and Zoox Smart Data, which it said can transform its entire Instant On hardware family into "a powerful marketing platform." Platforms like the partners listed deliver targeted ads, location-based services, and other Wi-Fi marketing, and customer loyalty products.

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The Aruba Instant On AP22 is Wi-Fi 6 certified, which is an essential feature to keep an eye out for. It means that the Wi-Fi Alliance has certified the device as actually having the features it claims to have: Without that certification it's not possible to know what the device is actually capable of.

Regardless of certification, upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 capable router like the AP22 is an investment for the future, but not one that you may notice an immediate benefit from. The amount of Wi-Fi 6 certified routers is growing rapidly, but end-user devices are still trickling out. 

TechRepublic sister site CNET's list of Wi-Fi 6 capable devices is still relatively short, and its article about smart home hardware that supports Wi-Fi 6 is similarly brief. If your organization is going to outfit its office, store, or warehouse in AP22s don't expect Wi-Fi speeds to immediately jump and for customers to be amazed at speeds: It's still going to take some time to see the benefits from new products like this one.

This article was updated on August 6, 2020 with clarifications on the Instant On portfolio.

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