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Apple will stop selling its AirPort routers when supplies run out

The company still will support the discontinued networking devices, which haven't been updated in five years, for the next half decade.

Dong Ngo/CNET

Apple's getting out of the router game.

On Thursday, the company said it's discontinuing its AirPort line of base stations. Customers will be able to buy them in Apple Stores, online and through authorized resellers, until supplies run out. Apple also will continue to support the older routers for service and parts for five years.

The company last updated its $199 AirPort Extreme and $299 AirPort Time Capsule in June 2013 with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but its $99 AirPort Express hasn't been updated since 2012. 

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When Apple introduced its first AirPort router nearly 20 years ago, home networking wasn't as easy or as widespread as it is now. Today, cable and internet service providers give subscribers routers, and users can buy cheap, full-featured models online. There also are third party partners that support Apple's Time Capsule backup service. Apple even sells a mesh networking system from Linksys in its stores.

While 802.11ac was the newest Wi-Fi technology at the time of the last AirPort update, today's cutting edge routers are being designed with next-generation 802.11ax. The new, ultrafast Wi-Fi, which is expected to hit mass adoption in 2019, is the first standard that doesn't just focus on faster speeds but also improves network capacity, especially in crowded areas.  

802.11ax networks should be able to pump four times as much data as today's 802.11ac networks to each device in crowded situations, in part by beaming data toward specific phones, PCs and other devices instead of bathing an entire room with radio signals. 

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