Building on the company’s OnHub WiFi router program, the search giant will be offering up its own mesh WiFi network solution for home users later this year aptly named “Google WiFi.” Available in November for pre-order Google will offer single and triple packs of its puck-shaped smartphone controlled WiFi nodes.
Google WiFi is a new product that takes advantage of an old technology called mesh networking. While most home users rely on a single powerful access point to distribute the wireless signal throughout the home, mesh networks place nodes around the home in such a way that the WiFi networks overlap. Devices can connect to any node and transition between nodes automatically. The nodes communicate with each other wirelessly and connect end devices to the router and Internet by taking the best path (least number of hops and/or highest signal strengths). This model does have some disadvantages that are shared with WiFi repeater solutions in that as much as 50% (or worse!) of the bandwidth can be lost at each hop as the devices use wireless for both communicating with end devices and the backbone to the router. The advantage though is that you need only find a power outlet to set up the mesh node and there is no need to run Ethernet or deal with Powerline or MoCA setups.
Fortunately, it looks as though Google has mitigated the disadvantage by including two radios. The circular Google WiFi nodes (which measure 4.17” diagonally and 2.7” tall) pack a dual band 802.11ac WiFi chip that can operate at both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Using the 5 GHz network for in room end devices (PCs, smartphones, game consoles, Rokus, et al) and the 2.4 GHz network to communicate with each other will help to eliminate a major bottleneck. There will likely still be some bandwidth lost, especially over multiple hops, due to interference, but it should be much less than 50% bandwidth loss.
Each Google WiFi node features two Gigabit Ethernet ports that can be setup as LAN or WAN ports, Bluetooth, and an 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi radio with beamforming support. The nodes are powered by an unspecified quad core processor, 512MB DDR3L memory, and 4GB of eMMC flash storage. The nodes apparently draw as much as 15 watts.
Of course, being Google, the Google WiFi can be controlled using an Android or iOS app that allows the administrator to pause WiFi on a per-device basis (e.g. set time limits for children), monitor device bandwidth usage and prioritize traffic, and automatically apply firmware updates to mitigate security risks. Additionally, Google WiFi automatically configures each node to use the best channel and band to get the best performance that supports all devices.
The nodes currently come only in white and are constructed of plastic. There are blue LEDs around the middle of the puck shaped device. Google WiFi will be available for pre-order in November. A single node will cost $129 while a three pack will cost $299. Google is not first to the wireless mesh party but it looks like it will be competitively priced (the three pack is $200 cheaper than eero, for example).
This looks like it might be a simple to setup solution if you or your family are currently running a single access point that can’t quite cover the entire home. I don’t really see this as a product for enthusiasts, but it might be worth recommending to people that just want WiFi that works with little setup. I will have to wait for reviews to say for sure though.
What are your thoughts on Google WiFi?
I don’t think Google’s
I don’t think Google’s artists that created that diagram understand how a wireless mesh works. It won’t work the way it’s laid out. They’ve drawn it such that the “signals” don’t reach the adjacent node. Oops.
The wireless signal doesn’t
The wireless signal doesn’t have to reach the other nodes if the are connected via ethernet.
True 🙂 You can configure
True 🙂 You can configure them that way if you have ethernet drops to those rooms but kind of defeats the purpose of buying these ubless you want the simpler management interface (not a bad idea it someone is not that tech savvy esp since they automatically download security firmware updates).
The diagram could be showing
The diagram could be showing the extent of the 5Ghz while the 2.4 backbone would not be visable in this display and have a larger radius.
Can you use more than three?
Can you use more than three?
I believe so.
I believe so.
My biggest concern is that I
My biggest concern is that I don’t trust Google to stick with this if it’s not an immediate success. I know EERO is committed because this is all they do.
That Strix Systems paper is a
That Strix Systems paper is a joke I’m sorry. They provide no information on what they actually used for their testing, so it’s impossible to reproduce. Furthermore the whole thing reads like a marketing pamphlet written by non-technical person.
Better link to this NASA paper instead: http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2514/6.2014-1600
Neat, I can add that.
Neat, I can add that.
Okay that link should work
Okay that link should work had to add it on mobile.
How is this different than
How is this different than configuring multiple routers or APs with the same SSID and security settings?
The difference is that the
The difference is that the individual APs are transferring traffic between them over Wifi rather than Ethernet. Having an Ethernet backhaul will of course be more performant, but this gives a bit more flexibility for situations when wiring each AP to a wired network isn’t possible/cost-effective.
I’m interested in these for
I’m interested in these for my non-techy family. They have a two story house, and a single router downstairs doesn’t cut it upstairs at the extents of the house.
Hopefully they perform well. Unfortunately the OnHub ones didn’t do as well as the Asus / Dlink / Netgear equivalents.
Yep, these may be a good fit
Yep, these may be a good fit for that situation. If you end up trying it let us know how it goes!
Dumb question. My internet
Dumb question. My internet provider provided me with a wireless capable router modem combo. Will Google wifi control wifi to pause devices or will tablets/phones/computers just get signal from ISP wireless router?
If you use Google WiFi you
If you use Google WiFi you should disable the wifeless on the gateway including any hotspot for other isp customers like Xfinity Wifi for example.
I don’t want to invest in a
I don’t want to invest in a product like this until it’s fully open source.
Then, if the original vendor cancels it or goes out of business, there can be a community maintaining the software. Plus, you should be able to mix and match devices from different vendors. So if eero costs too much you get Google, and vice versa.
But currently all of the players in this space aren’t interesting in sharing their proprietary ideas. That’s their right, just like it’s my right not to buy.
I have a 1 level house, but
I have a 1 level house, but it is pretty long, and unfortunately my office is on one end and the family room where I spend most of my time is on the other. I have my router in the office, and a wired access point in the family room, both using the same SSID. I have poor reception spot in the middle of the house, which I’ve tried to fix with a wireless extender, but that doesn’t seem to work all that well. My big problem is my cell will try to hang onto the weak signal from one end of the house. Will a mesh network work better transferring control to the stronger signal as I move about the house? Also, can I hardwire the node in the family room to get better performance?