What do you think the most popular Linksys router is? One of those new models with smart beam technology and all the other bells and whistles? Not quite. Actually, on the list of best wireless router models of all time, the WRT54GL from 2005 is one of Linksys’ strongest models – and it’s still for sale today.
Yep, that’s a router from around 11 years ago that is not only still on the market, but also still making Linksys quite a bit of money. And it’s not because of the specs, either: This ancient router comes with the 802.11g standard, has only the 2.4GHz frequency band to use, and has a top speed of 54Mbps.
In comparison, average wireless routers available these days have the ac standard (necessary for many modern mobile devices), two bands at 2.4GHz and 5GH in case one band gets too crowded, and speeds that start out at around several hundred gbps for the slowest band available.
Yet Linksys has confirmed that the humble WRT54GL is still making millions of dollars for the company every year. And no, that’s not because people have found a way to break them down into some sort of valuable scrap – they’re still selling as normal router at around $43 on Amazon. The company has admitted that even it is a little confused by the continued demand, but is more than happy to keep on producing what has to be a very cheap router to make in this day and age.
Indications hint that people who want new routers are interested in reliability, and when they ask around they find friends who say, “Yeah, I’ve got this Linksys router from a decade ago and it’s still going strong – also really easy to make hotspots and stuff with it.” That sort of recommendation apparently trumps most other data.
Of course, there’s a big problem with this open obsession: A router from 10 years ago isn’t really capable of dealing with today’s world where smartphone users outnumber desktop users and everyone needs an appropriate Wi-Fi system. Take it as a friendly warning: If your Wi-Fi has been having a lot of problems lately, check the date and specs. You might be sacrificing connection quality for sometimes over-praised features like durability.