Google’s mesh Wi-Fi system launches in Australia

Get ready for an invasion of little white disks around homes and offices. No, they are not mini-alien spaceships on a mission to colonise Earth, rather little Google Wi-Fi devices that make up its new mesh-style Wi-Fi router system. Google starts selling them in Australia on Thursday.

Google Wi-Fi represents a big change for the typical home network where you have a black box for a modem and a second black box for a router, or maybe one box for both, and they sit in the corner.

The problem is, the further away you go from them, the weaker the signal becomes.

Google’s approach is to put little discs in different parts of your home, and they work together to intelligently route traffic to deliver more even coverage, it says.

Google Wi-Fi goes on sale on Thursday, the same day as the company’s landmark Google Home personal assistant. A single disk costs $199 and a 3-pack $499.

Google Wi-Fi can be bought as a three-pack for $499.
Google Wi-Fi can be bought as a three-pack for $499.

Google says the 3-pack will be sufficient for a large house. Google recommends putting the discs out in the open, about two rooms apart.

The mesh system supports pretty much all modern router Wi-Fi features. There’s dual band Wi-Fi as most newer routers have (2.4GHz and 5GHz), with support for IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi.

While it’s predominantly a Wi-Fi router system, there are 2 Gb Ethernet ports on each unit, so you can hardwire in devices such as NAS boxes and network hard drives. You’ll need a Gigabit switch if you want more than two at a single location.

Alternatively, you can attach the mesh system downstream from a normal router, typically with four Ethernet ports, but that starts to defeat the purpose of this system.

Google says a single Wi-Fi point is fine for smaller homes and apartments, while a three-pack covers larger homes and multistorey homes. You can buy and add extra discs as needed.

Google says its mesh system can handle high bandwidth activities such as 4K streaming and online HD gaming, even simultaneously in different rooms.

It says it can handle up to 5 4K video streams simultaneously. We need to test this to find out for sure.

Google Wi-fi
Google Wi-fi

The system uses software by Google called Network Assist. Google says if the software discovers congestion from nearby devices, it will automatically switch a device to a clearer Wi-Fi channel.

And if it locates a stronger, faster signal, it will help a device to roam to that Wi-Fi point.

It says Network Assist will tell you if you could get faster speeds by moving one of your Google Wi-Fi points, and alerts you if your ISP goes offline.

There is a companion app for controlling the device from your phone. From the app you can perform tasks such as prioritising which device gets a faster speeds when it matters.

The system also purports to give you better control over children’s access online. Google says you can press pause on children’s devices, such as during bedtime or dinnertime, and even schedule regular recurring pauses.

We’ll need to check it out in detail to see if all this holds up, or if it has other typical router functions, such as port forwarding, dynamic DNS, static routes — bells and whistles which, while pretty technical, are bread-and-butter features on routers.

Culled from Here


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