Linksys announced the first fully functional MU-MIMO AC5400 Tri-Band Wireless Router this week. The company also announced the AC1900 Range Extender and a USB Adapter. These are the first networking solutions in their category to ship with working MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple Output), the next generation Wi-Fi 802.11ac Wave 2 technology, which helps improve overall performance and efficiency of a Wi-Fi network while providing dedicated bandwidth to MU-MIMO capable client devices as if they have their own dedicated router.

According to a white paper by ABI Research The Importance Of Mu-Mimo In The Wi-Fi Ecosystem more than 84% of all wireless 5GHz chipsets will be MU-MIMO enabled by 2019. Sandvine Research has reported that 70% of internet traffic in North America consists entirely of streaming video and audio content from sources like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, iTunes, Pandora and many other sources. It was 30% five years ago.

“With the rise of bandwidth intensive activities, such as 4K streaming and online gaming, the importance of an efficient and optimized Wi-Fi network is more critical than ever,” said Justin Doucette, senior director of product management at Linksys. “The Max-Stream family of products provides the broadest array of MU-MIMO capable and enabled products in the marketplace. MU-MIMO enables multiple devices to communicate with the router and/or range extender simultaneously, so the result is a faster and more reliable Wi-Fi.”

The Max-Stream AC1900 Range Extender (RE7000) will offer Room-to-Room Wi-Fi with Seamless Roaming within the entire Max-Stream product line. According to the company, this technology helps enable client devices to roam around the home always connected to the optimal access point, either router or range extender seamlessly without having to manually connect or lose connection. Seamless roaming works much the same way devices work in an office environment where users can move room to room, floor to floor always staying connected to the office Wi-Fi connection.

When Seamless Roaming is added to routers, range extenders and mobile devices- the mobile devices are able to switch and connect to the strongest Wi-Fi signal at all times. Users can run an uninterrupted Facetime or Skype session on their smartphone, or watch YouTube/Netflix on their iPad while moving from one room to the other without dropping the signal.

Another advantage of seamless roaming is a single network name (also known as SSID) for the entire network, making it easier to always staying connected to the best Wi-Fi signal. In traditional router and range extender pairing without Seamless Roaming, it’s best to define multiple network names and manually switch clients from one network to another to optimize performance. This proves cumbersome and frustrating to many users.

“Linksys just celebrated 28 years of providing networking solutions, and with that history comes extensive knowledge of how to address consumer pain points and to make Wi-Fi more efficient in the home,” said Doucette. “Room to Room Wi-Fi addresses consumer’s connectivity, throughput and range issues throughout the house while leveraging standards which will future proof your network for newer client devices to seamlessly roam.”

The Linksys MAX-STREAM AC5400 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router with MU-MIMO (EA9500) was a CES 2016 winner, the Linksys EA9500 is outfitted with Next Gen AC Wi-Fi technology, MU-MIMO, Tri-Band and eight high-powered external antennas that work in concert to deliver powerful Wi-Fi at combined speeds up to 5.3 Gbps.

The EA9500 offers a 1.4 GHz Dual Core Processor, Tri-Band Wireless AC5400 (1000 Mbps 2.4Ghz + 2166 Mbps 5Ghz + 2166 Mbps 5GHz), 802.11ac Wave 2 includes MU-MIMO, Room-to-Room Wi-Fi with Seamless Roaming Technology, 9 Gigabit Ethernet ports (8 LAN, 1 WAN) and USB 3.0, 2.0 ports, 8 external antennas for maximum coverage and is the first router capable of supporting up to 8 simultaneous MU-MIMO Streams.

The EA9500 also offers WPA2 encryption and SPI firewall help keep your network safely connected. Other features include the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app for simple set up, remote access, control and troubleshooting for $399.

As for the Linksys MAX-STREAM AC1900+ MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Range Extender with Room-to-Room Wi-Fi (RE7000), that will work with any Wi-Fi router. Linksys points out that when paired with a Linksys Max-Stream router it can provide even greater performance to Wi-Fi devices all around the home with Room-to-Room Wi-Fi.

The combination of a Max-Stream router and range extender creates a single network in the home with a single network name (SSID) so users can roam throughout their home without having to manually connect to the range extender.

The Linksys Max-Stream Range Extender also features Spot Finder Technology (Patent Pending) to show users where to place the range extender using a mobile device for optimal performance. Crossband Technology maximizes the simultaneous use of both bands, while Beamforming focuses and strengthens the Wi-Fi signal. Additional features include Dual Band Wireless AC1900 – AC1733 + N300, Room-To-Room Wi-Fi with Seamless Roaming, 802.11ac Wave 2 includes MU-MIMO, Crossband Technology, Plug-In Form factor, Multi-Mode – Repeater, Access Point and a One Gigabit Ethernet Port for $149.

Finally the Linksys MAX-STREAM AC600 USB MU-MIMO Adapter (WUSB6100M) enables users to connect their Windows-based laptops and computers to a wireless-AC network as well as a MU-MIMO router which helps improve the overall efficiency of your home Wi-Fi. It includes AC Wave 2 – MU-MIMO (AC433/N150), Beamforming, Simple plug and play setup and works with any Wi-Fi Router. That device will retail for $59.

Availability

The Linksys AC5400 Tri-Band MU-MIMO Router (EA9500), AC1900 MU-MIMO Range Extender with Room to Room Wi-Fi (RE7000) and AC600 MU-MIMO USB Adapter (WUSB6100M) will be immediately available this weekend at Linksys.com and at leading retail and online retailers including here on Amazon.