Google Wifi wants to kill dead spots

The problem with home Wi-Fi, as Google sees it, is that many people use a single router to provide coverage for an entire house. For too many users, walls, odd construction quirks, and distance conspire to create dead zones and slow down connection speeds. Yesterday, Google announced Google Wifi (sic), an expandable system of mesh routers intended to simplify and improve home Wi-Fi connections.

The device has a simple, innocuous design. It's a white, 4.17"-diameter (10.6-cm) hockey puck with a thin band around the middle. The 2.7" (6.9-cm) tall unit houses a quad-core processor, 512MB of DDR3L memory, and 4GB of flash storage. Each system point has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, though wireless connections are the main attraction. Google Wifi offers 802.11ac connectivity with AC1200 speeds. Additionally, the units support beamforming and Bluetooth Smart.

Google calls these cylindrical routers "Google Wifi points" or, more generically, "system points." Google will sell Wifi points individually or in packs of three. The company indicates that one point should cover a small home or apartment of 500 to 1500 square feet, while two should be sufficient for a 1500-to-3000 square foot home. Larger homes or buildings with stubborn dead zones will want three or more Wifi points. Since the system points operate as a mesh network, Google's Network Assist technology constantly determines which band and channel are best for your device, making real-time changes as needed behind the scene.

To let users control their Wifi hordes, Google borrowed a trick or two from the OnHub routers that it designed last year. Similar to the OnHub system, users can control Google Wifi using a smartphone app. The app is available for Android and iOS and lets users track connected devices, prioritize certain devices, and pause the family Wi-Fi during dinner. (Judging from the number of times it's made a joke about this, Google's marketing team must have a lot of trouble getting children to come to the dinner table.) Additionally, the app allows users to manage security and privacy settings. The software will even help users determine the optimal placement for the system points.

Google will sell the system points for $129 individually or at $299 for a pack of three. These prices seem aggressive, considering that mesh-networking competitor Eero sells comparable units for $199 each. Google Wifi will be available for preorder in November for U.S. shoppers. Buyers should get their routers in December.

Comments closed
    • tipoo
    • 3 years ago

    Hm. Each wireless extender halves the wifi rate, right? Does a mesh network get around this limitation? If not, would three of these halve the theoretical wifi rate twice?

      • LostCat
      • 3 years ago

      I don’t think any wireless extender works that way. Obviously it doesn’t usually get a full 100% flawless signal needed for full capacity, but I’m not sure where ‘halves’ actually came from.

        • tipoo
        • 3 years ago

        As I understood, because the node has to flip between transmitting to the main router or the client, the bandwidth for that doesn’t come out of the ether –

        [url<]https://forums.anandtech.com/threads/any-downside-to-using-a-wi-fi-repeater.2267567/[/url<] [url<]https://www.cnet.com/forums/discussions/do-repeaters-bridges-etc-all-cut-wi-fi-speed-in-half-534670/[/url<]

      • floodo1
      • 3 years ago

      No

      • cygnus1
      • 3 years ago

      It has 2 radios, so in an extender situation (with only 2 units) one radio will be used for access point to client communications and the other will be used as a bridge to the other access point. Now if you string multiple together, you can get reductions in throughput depending on the situation as there aren’t an unlimited number of radios and channels. Clients talking to the middle access point will likely get more bandwidth than clients on the end access point.

    • GatoRat
    • 3 years ago

    I currently live in an apartment complex with horrible WiFi congestion. This isn’t going to help.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      Powerline to the rescue!

        • ray890
        • 3 years ago

        Pure Ethernet connectivity FTW

    • ch┬Áck
    • 3 years ago

    How is this different or better than using multiple wireless routers set up as access points?

      • ludi
      • 3 years ago

      There was a brief, related discussion in the forums after the similar Eero system came out:

      [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=117851[/url<]

    • sweatshopking
    • 3 years ago

    Meh. Never had wifi problems and always had a single router. Seems damn expensive to me.

      • DancinJack
      • 3 years ago

      Most people don’t live in a place that has ten miles to the next neighbor.

        • sweatshopking
        • 3 years ago

        This isn’t going to solve channel congestion, is it?

        And for the record, if I go outside i can pick up two other networks!

    • tipoo
    • 3 years ago

    The Onhub will also work as a mesh router node with Google Wifi, so they aren’t dropping it completely, which is good. But it still doesn’t have that update to even use its USB port…

    • xeridea
    • 3 years ago

    Isn’t this pretty much what Unifi does? Unifi is cheaper.

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      Pretty much. If this reviews well it could be tempting.

      • w76
      • 3 years ago

      Sort of. Unifi is capable of doing it this way, but the preferred method is running ethernet to APs, so each AP isn’t spending half its time trying to relay to another AP.

      Frankly I just set up a Unifi setup with Edgerouter Lite and their AC Lite AP and it so thoroughly shames consumer wifi I’ll never touch that garbage again, or this mesh “let’s take WiFi congestion and crank it to 11” stuff.

      A Ubiquiti Security Gateway plus AC Pro AP though would probably be about $200, though, so not really cheaper.

        • xeridea
        • 3 years ago

        I had just did a quick google search and found this [url<]https://www.amazon.com/Ubiquiti-Networks-Enterprise-AP-Unifi/dp/B00HXT8R2O[/url<] for $60. It is only g/n though. I thought I had found one that was AC for like $80 earlier. The Unifi you run a wire to each AP, so there isn't relay.... I am generally under the impression that if you need faster than N (which is plenty fast for internet, and general networking), you should probably be hardwired. So I have been underwhelmed with high end, expensive wifi with high theoretical speed that ends up still crawling compared than gigabit. I use 2.4GHz in my house, because 5GHz is abysmal more than 5 feet from router, speed still plenty fast (~70Mbit). The higher speed wifi I don't think is any better.

          • cygnus1
          • 3 years ago

          Not all 5GHz equipment is created equal. I can get speedtests to the internet over 100 mb/s up and down over my 5GHz 802.11ac, from the floor above the access point, with many walls in between as well. Same spot on 2.4GHz gets less than half that. Don’t blame the frequency or the spec. It’s all in what gear your using and just checking the feature box doesn’t mean it will run well.

            • xeridea
            • 3 years ago

            Maybe so, but 5GHz is a lot worse at going through walls than 2.4GHz, even with high end equipment. I don’t feel like spending crazy money on a router, so I just use the 2.4GHz, which is plenty fast for internet (~70Mbps in most of house). 2.4 GHz works fine 2 floors up, through a lot of ductwork, or anywhere in my yard. 5GHz barely works at all unless I am in basement, within 10 feet of router, with at most 1 wall. Same for anyones phone, or multiple different laptops.

            Router is Asus RT-N56U

            • cygnus1
            • 3 years ago

            I guess it all depends on your perspective. I live in a 2 story, wood frame house. With about 10 ft between houses. So the 2.4GHz range is fairly crowded which causes it to be slow at almost any distance. The shorter range of 5GHz is actually a benefit because there’s less interference and signal bleed from neighbors. The funny thing is, 2.4GHz would probably work better if everyone turned down their routers transmit power so that you wouldn’t see 8 houses worth of APs in every house.

            • xeridea
            • 3 years ago

            Yeah, that could be a thing. I don’t have much interference with other networks. I could try moving router, but from my testing before, it probably wouldn’t help much, and wouldn’t be worth it to me to set up a mesh. Have you tried a wifi analyzer on phone to see if there is a better channel?

      • davidbowser
      • 3 years ago

      Their new consumer grade stuff is called AmpliFi. It is mesh network like these offerings. I don’t have any (I have Unifi gear) but the reviews have been good so far. Ars did one and I think CNET had a comparison.

      [url<]http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/07/spending-some-time-with-ubiquiti-labs-amplifi-home-wi-fi-mesh-system/[/url<]

    • TheRazorsEdge
    • 3 years ago

    I’m only interested if I can disable any cloud connectivity.

    The smartphone app should work over the local wifi connection.

    I don’t fancy passing my device information and management traffic over the internet just so Google can tout another cloud-enabled device.

      • willmore
      • 3 years ago

      Then you’re not going to like the Eero devices as they do the same thing. ;(

      • TheJack
      • 3 years ago

      The ultimate data mining.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 3 years ago

    So, essentially, Google wants to puck you?

      • Lord.Blue
      • 3 years ago

      Seems that way with all their recent devices – and Amazon is in on it as well –
      [url<]https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DFKC2SO/ref=fs_ods_fs_aucc_bt[/url<]

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    What is dead may never die, but rises again harder and stronger.

      • Neutronbeam
      • 3 years ago

      and your wife is buying that statement?

        • poisonrain
        • 3 years ago

        Tell my wifilove her…. sorry… I’ll get my coat…

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