When it comes to networking, Wi-Fi is great for convenience, but it can’t hold a candle to wires when it comes to performance and plain old reliability. Amazon seems to have taken this idea to heart because it’s introducing an ethernet jack-laden gateway, which supports power over ethernet, or PoE, to its Eero lineup. It’s also releasing a PoE access point alongside it.
The tech, which is popular among businesses and home networking enthusiasts alike, lets you run a single cable to your networking equipment instead of having to connect power and ethernet separately. For those willing to pay for the equipment, it should provide more flexibility for where Eero access points can be mounted or even just let people achieve cleaner cable runs.
The company’s first PoE access point is called the Eero PoE 6. In terms of performance, the $299.99 device falls somewhere between Eero’s 6 Plus and Pro 6E access points; like the 6 Plus, it only supports dual-band Wi-Fi 6 instead of offering tri-band Wi-Fi 6E like the Pro access point. However, the PoE’s speeds, coverage, and capacity specs are closer to the Pro 6E, which comes in at the same price point, than they are to the $139 6 Plus. Amazon says the PoE 6 will support 1.5Gbps speeds over Wi-Fi (its PoE port is rated for 2.5Gbps), “more than 100 connected devices,” and provide up to 2,000 square feet of coverage.
To go along with the access points, Eero’s introducing a PoE gateway, which the company’s CEO Nick Weaver described during a briefing as the “first dedicated wired Eero device.” According to a press release, it supports internet speeds up to 10Gbps, has two 10 gigabit ethernet ports, and eight 2.5 gigabit ethernet ports that support PoE. (The faster ports are just for data, not power.)
Those ports could power a lot of access points, though you don’t necessarily need to run eight PoE Eeros to make use of them all; you could also power other PoE devices with the gateway, such as VoIP phones or security cameras. Across the eight ports, the gateway can deliver up to 100W of power, as long as it’s connected with its 140W power supply rather than its 45W one. (Weaver said in an email that the “Eero PoE Gateway will come with the 140W power adapter when it is available for purchase on Amazon.com early next year.”)
At $649.99, the PoE gateway is definitely priced like prosumer equipment. Ubiquiti’s Switch Enterprise 8 PoE comes in at $479, though it is worth noting that the Eero has routing capabilities built-in, whereas you’d have to connect the Enterprise 8 to a separate router. According to Weaver, the gateway has “the same router functions as other Eero devices.” If you have multiple PoE gateways, one will act as a router while the others will act as switches.
The gateway isn’t a required accessory if you’re looking to use the PoE 6 access points. Weaver said those “can be powered by any PoE source” or with a USB-C power supply. They’re also able to act either as access points or gateways, like the Eero, Eero Pro, Eero 6, or Eero 6 Pro. Both the gateway and access point can be managed with the Eero app.
Amazon mainly seems to be marketing these products toward professional installers and small businesses, and Weaver said they were designed for “higher performance installations,” meaning offices and homes with professionally installed setups. In the US and Canada, professional installers will be able to get the PoE 6 starting in October, while regular consumers will have to wait until “early next year” to pick it or the gateway up on Amazon.
Despite Amazon’s focus, it’s easy to see these products being relatively popular with home network enthusiasts as well. As someone who once installed a lot of Ubiquiti gear — and made heavy use of PoE for it — but ended up moving to a simpler solution, this system seems tailor-made for me. (Or at least a version of me that had cash to burn and the need to cover a house the size of a city block with Wi-Fi.)
The company is also announcing two software services called Eero for Pro Installers and Eero for Business alongside the devices. Eero for Pro Installers lets companies and contractors remotely manage and troubleshoot their customer’s Eero networks. Professional installers will get the service included with any PoE 6 or PoE gateway they buy. Eero for Business is meant to make the company’s equipment more attractive to companies that don’t necessarily have IT teams, letting them set up things like multiple SSIDs and captive portals.