Apple's Mystery 'Network Adapter' Found in FCC Filing Likely for Internal Use Only

Apple earlier this year sent a "Network Adapter" to the FCC for approval, an unearthed filing has revealed, although suggestions that it could be an AirPort successor or other unannounced networking product for consumer use are likely wide of the mark.

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Consumer networking products from Apple's discontinued AirPort range

Whenever a company designs a device for use in the United States that uses radio frequencies like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, it must get FCC regulatory approval. According to documents shared by the FCC, Apple sent a "Network Adapter" with the model number A2657 to the agency on January 22, with the following description.

A2657 is a network adapter. It has an integral battery, two gigabit ethernet ports, USB-C connector and antenna. The device supports IEEE 802.11b/g/n radio, Bluetooth radio, and NFC. The network adapter comes with 32 GB memory storage and 1.5 GB RAM.

The device is intended to be connected to a host computer and receive its power through a USB-A port during normal use.

The documents suggest that the device runs "19F47" firmware, which matches an early internal version of iOS 15.5, suggesting it is powered by Apple silicon. The FCC tested the device by connecting it to an iMac, but other than that, no other details are given, and Apple has requested a non-disclosure agreement that runs until November 2022.

The filing doesn't include any images of the device either, but there are some telltale signs in the description that it is unlikely to relate to a forthcoming consumer product.

For one, the device appears to lack support for the 802.11ac wireless networking standard. Also known as Wi-Fi 5, 802.11ac was announced in 2014 and has been superseded by Wi-Fi 6, which is already supported in newer iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks.

Secondly, the device only uses the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band, whereas most modern commercial routers and consumer Apple devices support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, with the 5GHz spectrum usually offering the best performance. For example, the discontinued sixth-generation AirPort Extreme base station operated on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio bands.

Lastly, the device is "intended to receive its power through a USB-A port during normal use." Apple has replaced USB-A with USB-C connectivity on all of its MacBooks and iMacs, and the idea that it would launch a consumer device with a legacy port as a primary connector is unrealistic.

Apple officially ended development on its AirPort line of products in 2018, and the company has since sold third-party routers. Apple has many FCC-certified devices that are solely intended for internal use, and this filing very likely relates to another device that falls into that category.

(Via 9to5Mac.)

Tag: FCC

Top Rated Comments

MakeAppleAwesomeAgain Avatar
13 months ago
I'm still rocking two AirPort Extremes from 2013, and I won't be replacing them with another brand for a long time. The wireless signal is strong enough for my needs, and when one of them dies, I will replace them with a second-hand. I've had experiences with almost every wireless router brand, and this model is the most stable router I've ever used. I never had to reboot it.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Justin Cymbal Avatar
13 months ago
It would be great to have Apple get back into making routers again

I was using the last version of the Airport Extreme up until last year when I replaced my 2 Airport Extremes with 3 eeros

I chose to replace my two Airport Extremes that I had with eeros because I wanted to have Apple’s HomeKit compatibility - Trying to buy all of my home accessories so that they are HomeKit compatible

MacRumors had a post on Friday that mentioned that Apple might release a new version of the HomePod either this year or in early 2023 so an Apple router would be a great addition to that especially if features like AirPlay work better over an Apple mesh Wi-Fi setup
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Marie.D Avatar
13 months ago
I really hope they come back to this market with an offering. I’d love for a good and simple router with HomeKit router and Time Machine baked in.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AirunJae Avatar
13 months ago
Seems like a good amount of MacRumors readers would like Apple to get back into the router market, and I too would like that. I think they could definitely have one be differentiated from a privacy aspect.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
syklee26 Avatar
13 months ago
I dunno why Apple got out of the router business to begin with… weren’t they selling well?
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Psychicbob Avatar
13 months ago
My AirPort 2TB Timecapsule is still going well. How I’d love to have an SSD or NVMe replacement available, for when the drive does eventually go!
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)