Earlier this year, Apple filed a “Network Adapter” with the FCC for approval. Some believed the filing could be for a new consumer networking product such as an AirPort successor. However, it appears the device is for internal Apple use.
Bluetooth and WiFi devices use radio frequencies, meaning any device sold in the U.S. must first receive regulatory approval from 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 indicate that the submitted device runs “19F47” firmware, which matches an early internal version of iOS 15.5, suggesting it is powered by Apple silicon.
The device was tested by connecting it to an iMac, but other than that, no other details are given. Apple has requested a non-disclosure agreement that runs until November 2022.
No images of the device were included in the filing. However, there are some telltale signs in the description indicating the device is not intended to be a consumer product.
The device apparently lacks support for the 802.11ac wireless networking standard. Also known as Wi-Fi 5, 802.11ac was announced in 2014 and has been succeeded by Wi-Fi 6.
Also, the device only uses the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band. Meanwhile, most modern commercial routers and consumer Apple devices support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
Last but not least, the device “receives its power through a USB-A port during normal use.” Apple has in the last few years replaced USB-A with USB-C connectivity on all of its MacBooks and iMacs, making it unlikely that the Cupertino firm would launch a consumer device with a legacy port as a primary connector.