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People are happier with their routers in 2021, JD Power finds

Customer satisfaction with Wi-Fi routers ticked up in 2021 after an intense 2020 that pushed our home networks to the limit.

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Chris Monroe/CNET

Are you happy with the router that's quarterbacking your home's Wi-Fi connection? According to the latest customer satisfaction data from JD Power, the odds are good that the answer is yes.

The organization's latest survey scores customer satisfaction with routers at 884 out of 1,000 for 2021, which is up from a score of 826 in 2020. The biggest gains in the category came from improved satisfaction with Wi-Fi range, which saw a 20-point jump over last year.

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Ian Greenblatt, managing director at JD Power, notes that 2020 was a rough year for the industry as the COVID-19 pandemic saw millions suddenly working, learning and socializing from home on a daily basis. That pushed home Wi-Fi hardware to the limit and led to a downturn in router satisfaction for 2020, Greenblatt says -- but scores are beginning to trend back up.

"Customers are now settling in and appreciating their wireless connections," Greenblatt explains. "The study results also show an increase in customer service satisfaction, meaning that customer service representatives are doing a solid job at resolving customer issues."

Among the key router manufacturers scored, Asus finished in first place for customer satisfaction, with an average score of 859. TP-Link finished in a close second at 855, while Arris took the bronze with a score of 853.

The 2021 scores come during a period of transition in the router industry. The newest generation of Wi-Fi technology, 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6, made its debut in 2019 and has since become the de facto standard for new hardware releases. Concurrently, we've seen a steady rise in the number of mesh routers capable of using multiple devices to offer better Wi-Fi coverage throughout an entire home, along with more affordable entry-level systems. Wi-Fi 6E, a new designation for devices equipped to transmit data in the newly opened, ultra-wide 6GHz band, is beginning to take root, too.

Now in its sixth year, JD Power's Wireless Router Satisfaction Report is based on poll responses from 1,256 consumers who purchased a new router in the past year.