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Google WiFi?

I was expecting to write a long post about my experience setting up Google WiFi, complete with solutions for whatever hurdles I had to overcome on the way.

So if you’re expecting a how-to for a bug, you’ve come to the wrong place. My experience was really easy.

Photo of box
Clean packaging, a la Apple

Google offers these two consumers in two* different ways: individually, and in a package of three. I opted for the three, based on the footprint of my house. It’s wide but not deep, my principal router is in the center of the basement, and I was having signal dropoff at the north and south ends.

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* Except if you go to Costco.

Inner box image
Looking more like Apple all the time

The devices are lovingly packaged in clean white coated board, with a minimal amount of verbiage and almost zero marketing.

Photo of devices inside box
Inside are the three WiFi devices.

Underneath each unit you’ll find the hardware you need for power, as well as an Ethernet cable and instructions.

Inside of box
Under the plastic tray, find cables for each unit plus instructions, neatly organized.

The power cables are your standard AC to micro-USB jacks.

Photo of power supply cable.
Again, this could have been designed by Apple.

I like these flat Ethernet cables.

Ethernet cable
Flat Ethernet cables make for a tidier space with fewer tangles

The user experience has obviously been thought through thoroughly. Look for the “G” logo; pull it up; there’s your directions.

Picture of inside of box.
See the “G”? Reach in and pull it up.
Let's get started
This is where you start.

This is so far so good, even though it was just a simple matter of packaging things in a clear and intelligible way. But now you’ve got to set it up, and that’s where I really expected things to start crashing and commence burning. Install an app from the Play Store onto your phone, then plug your first device into the wall and connect it to the WAN output on your router.

Picture of hockey puck WiFi device
Here’s what it looks like on the top of the media cabinet.

Scan the QR code on the bottom of the “puck” with your phone, and start following the instructions. The system automatically downloads whatever software updates it needs, runs through some configuration checks and questions. It asks for you to create a new network name, set passwords, name the devices for future reference, etc. It takes a couple of minutes to run through all of this.

And then … It works.

I was kind of stunned. Is that all?

Photo of second Puck
Installed in the studio

Plug in the next one in your chosen location, scan the QR code, name it, and it finds your new subnet and configures itself. I put the third one in the garage, right under the dining room. It doesn’t care — as long as you can plug it in and it’s not too far from the primary unit and sets up without a complaint.

And so how well does it work?

Here are some signal tests from a wireless network diagnostic app on my phone. The new network is “tom-n-elyse”. The pre-existing network is on Fios-GR2KY and Fios-GR2KY-5G.

The new network broadcasts over multiple channels, so you’re covered not matter what your neighbors are doing with their WiFi networks. The strongest 5G band comes across at -43dBm. The strongest 2K band is around 47dBm.

By contrast, the Verizon router is putting out -64dBm on the 2K band, and -75dBm on the 5G band.

In summary

I’m delighted that it just works. But then, the signal strength is stronger from each individual unit, and by setting up the mesh network across the house the 5G signal is available everywhere, not just from the the two rooms closest to the router.

My only disappointment is that it doesn’t boost the signal strength to the wireless cable box upstairs. There’s masonry and a steel beam in the way, and the Fios signal is spotty. On the other hand, I pointed the Roku at the Google WiFi network and it’s great.

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