Netgear took the wraps off Orbi Pro, a version of the Orbi router and satellite system tailored to the needs of small and midsized businesses (SMBs).
A year ago, Netgear released its user-friendly, range-extending Orbi wireless system for the home. Allowing consumers to blanket practically every inch of their homes with a fast and reliable Wi-Fi signal, the Orbi quickly won fans among users who were sick of slipping into dead zones when they moved into another part of the house.
Today, with the launch of its new Orbi Pro AC3000 Tri-band WiFi System (SRK60), Netgear wants to help SMBs provide the same speedy, uninterrupted and far-reaching signal to both their employees and customers while protecting their critical systems.
Nowadays, it's common for customers to ask sales associates, wait staff and other employees about the Wi-Fi access provided by their business as soon as they walk in the door.
"Wi-Fi is something that is a given in a business environment," Nader Attar, senior product line manager for SMB WiFi and Security at Netgear, told Small Business Computing. Rather than "burn through their LTE minutes," consumers expect free and ubiquitous access to the internet when they bounce from business establishment to business establishment throughout the day.
In addition to keeping customers happy, Wi-Fi in the workplace is an enabling technology, added Attar. It can link various systems and users, enhancing productivity and encouraging collaboration. Finally, Wi-Fi kicks employee BYOD (bring-your-own-device) programs into high gear, allowing workers to get work done on the smartphones, tablets and other devices that they're familiar with.
Wi-Fi in the 'FastLane'
But good luck achieving those benefits with slow or spotty Wi-Fi.
Orbi Pro pumps out a fast, rock-solid 802.11ac signal using Netgear's FastLane3 Technology. It combines a dedicated WiFi link between Orbi routers and extender units, or "satellites," a tri-band Wi-Fi support and an optimized antenna design to keep users connected.
A base Orbi Pro setup, with a router and a satellite can cover up to 5,000 square feet. Add two more satellites, and the system can cover up to 10,000 square feet. It supports up to 40 simultaneous connections and can deliver speeds of up to 3Gbps.
With all that data crisscrossing the airwaves that quickly, it's natural to wonder about security. For starters, Orbi Pro supports the WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and WPA2-PSK security protocols. To further protect SMB environments, the hardware ships with built-in support for three Wi-Fi networks, each restricted to its own traffic.
SMBs can place their critical systems on the Admin Network, which also supports connectivity via the device's wired Gigabit Ethernet ports (three ports on the main router and four ports on each satellite). Customers and other guests strolling into a business "can't access my file server, printer, point-of-sale system," or other vital devices on the network, assured Attar.
Orbi Pro's Employee Network allows BYOD access to workers who need Internet access but don't need to touch the other systems on the network. With its own SSID and management capabilities, business owners can easily change passwords when employees leave.
Finally, the Guest Access Network allows businesses to set up a captive portal that visitors can use to access the internet. A captive portal is a webpage that appears when a user attempts to connect to Wi-Fi networks, often encountered in airports, hotels, businesses and other locations. It generally contains terms and conditions along with instructions on how to connect to the network.
With Orbi Pro, a small business can customize its captive portal by uploading its own terms and conditions, along with a logo or other image that reinforces the company's branding. To discourage abuse, administrators can set time-based limits on guest access.
Orbi Pro ships in September. Prices start at $499.99