Networking

Google Wifi wireless router: The smart person's guide

Our comprehensive guide about the Google Wifi wireless router includes its specifications and features, and what it means for small businesses and home use.

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Google Wifi wireless router

Image: James Martin/CNET

Google is a leader in innovation. From the Pixel devices, Google Home, and now Google Wifi, the big Alphabet is bringing more and better technology into homes and businesses. Google's new take on the router should be something everyone considers.

Google Wifi promises to make wireless networking smarter and more efficient, with attic to basement coverage that won't drop or randomly grow weak and disappear. Couple that with an app designed to help you manage your wireless network, and Google might be offering up the smartest wireless router on the market.

We'll update this Google Wifi resource guide as new information about the router is available.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's smart person's guides

Executive summary

  • What is Google Wifi? Google Wifi is a next-generation wireless router that is supposed to be smarter, more reliable, and offer better coverage than the competition.
  • Why does Google Wifi matter? For too long, router technology has suffered from stagnant development. Google aims to bring the wireless router to the modern age, which should finally make home and small business routing more reliable and intelligent.
  • Who does Google Wifi affect? Google Wifi will mostly appeal to consumers, but anyone with a small business in a space that's smaller than 4,500 square feet will also benefit from this technology.
  • When is Google Wifi available? Google Wifi was announced October 4, 2016, and the product enjoyed a US release in December 2016. In April 2017, the Wifi devices were officially made available in the UK.
  • How do I get Google Wifi? You can purchase the Google Wifi devices in a 1-pack or a 3-pack from the Google Store or from Amazon and other authorized retailers.

SEE: Explore the CNET Smart Home (CNET)

What is Google Wifi?

Google Wifi is a wireless router that goes well beyond the standard feature set of such a device. One of the key features of Google Wifi is seamless coverage throughout your home or small business. This solves a problem that many consumers have suffered for years: spotty wireless signals. Google achieves this by allowing you to join multiple Google Wifi units together to ensure there isn't a single dead zone in your location.

The Wifi units include software called Network Assist that makes sure you always have the strongest signal possible by constantly selecting the clearest wireless channel. When using multiple "points," Network Assist will seamlessly transition your device to the closest Wi-Fi point to ensure the best connection possible.

The devices were also designed to meet the demanding needs of modern usage—that translates to streaming. Google's goal was to create a wireless router that could stream, download, and share from multiple devices simultaneously, without your network speed taking a hit.

Another standout feature is the Google WiFi app. With this app, you can easily share your Wi-Fi password, see what devices are online, prioritize devices for increased performance, and pause your signal to specific devices (think parental control).

Google Wifi's specs:

  • Network ports: 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports per unit (ports can be configured as WAN or LAN)
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM, 4 GB eMMC flash
  • Processor: Quad-Core ARM CPU, each core up to 710 MHz
  • Dimensions: Height: 2.70 inch, Diameter: 4.17 inch

Additional resources:

Why does Google Wifi matter?

The router has worked in the background for decades...all the while, remaining an unintelligent piece of hardware that does little more than route packages either through a network cable or a wireless signal. Considering how far nearly every other piece of technology has come, it only makes sense that the router finally get its chance to evolve. That is precisely what Google has done with Google Wifi.

Older router technology (especially at the consumer level) struggles to keep up with the ever-growing demands we place on our wireless networks. From streaming television, games, music, cloud storage, and much more, old-school routers don't stand a chance. The time to evolve wireless technology is long past overdue, and Google Wifi might be exactly what we need to shore up wireless connectivity, especially in larger locations.

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Who does Google Wifi affect?

Google Wifi is targeted mainly for consumer home usage. With the ability to create a mesh network within your home, you won't suffer dead zones so that you can enjoy seamless wireless throughout. This new technology is especially important for consumers who experience dropped or reduced wireless connections within their homes. But don't think Google Wifi is relegated to home use only.

If you have a small business (again, in a space that's less than 4,500 square feet), and you're looking for an inexpensive way to get full wireless coverage, you would likely benefit from Google Wifi, especially if your building seems to suffer constant wireless interference. With Wifi's built-in ability to automatically switch to the clearest available channel, your wireless signal will always be at its strongest.

Additional resources:

When is Google Wifi available?

Google Wifi devices are available in the US and the UK. The product is sold through the Google Store and at numerous retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart.

Additional resources:

Competitors to Google Wifi

There are only a few true competitors for Google Wifi. They are:

How do I get Google Wifi?

Google Wifi can be purchased in either a 1-pack (which will cover locations up to 1,500 square feet) or a 3-pack (which will cover locations up to 4,500 square feet). The 1-pack sells for $129.00 USD, and the 3-pack sells for $299.00 USD.

You can buy the Google Wifi devices from the Google Store, Amazon, Best Buy, or Walmart. There is no contract to sign, and you do not have to subscribe to a service to use Google Wifi.

Download the free Google Wifi app from the Google Play Store to set up and control your Wifi devices.

Additional resources:

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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