How much does the google wi fi cost

Google Wifi is supposed to bring fast WLAN into the whole apartment so that smartphones, tablets and notebooks can use the internet connection even in the furthest corner. The promise keeps it, but you have to accept a few compromises.

A central WLAN router is enough for one or the other c't colleague to surf the web quickly in all parts of the apartment. But in most apartments and houses you will find corners where the web stream is jerky or websites load for a long time - and at the latest in the hobby basement it is completely over. Among other things, Google wants to plug such domestic dead spots with its WLAN distribution system Google Wifi, which will be available in Germany from June 26th and arrived at the c't laboratory a few days ago.

WLAN distribution systems consist of two or more identical base stations (also called nodes here) that set up a common WLAN and forward data to each other (backbone). Up to now, this task has been done with WLAN repeaters, but with WLAN distribution systems the nodes are better integrated and ideally set up the backbone via a radio module reserved for this purpose, which benefits throughput. Netgear Orbi (model RBK50) and Linksys Velop already had to assert themselves in the c't laboratory. Now, with Google, an internet giant is stepping up to stir up the market in this country - the price of 250 euros for a package with two distributors is well below that of the competition.

Setting up Google Wifi only works with the app of the same name and a Google account. The setup is exemplary and easy to understand, and the system is up and running after half an hour. We show the most important steps in the photo series.

The first node is connected to a WLAN router or replaced with it. With the current firmware version (9460.40.5, June 2017), Google Wifi always wants to set up the Internet access itself, so the first connected node becomes a router. If you have received a forced router from the provider or do not want to give up your Fritzbox, then you have to put up with double NAT (double address translation). This can cause problems for some applications such as VoIP or online games.

The bridge or access point mode, which manages without double NAT and does not throw the existing network topology overboard, can only be switched on if a single node is operated. This is of course pointless with a WLAN distribution system. An AP mode with several nodes is to follow later; Netgear and Linksys have already implemented this in their WLAN distribution systems Orbi and Velop.

Roaming behavior

The router node forwards its internet connection wirelessly to the other Google Wifi nodes. These work as repeaters. When setting up the system, it is best to couple them near the router node and only set them up later in their final places. You should choose this so that the radio cells of both devices overlap somewhat and thus cover a larger area overall. WLAN clients log in as usual, they then automatically select the most accessible node.

For example, if you walk through the apartment with a tablet, it changes automatically as soon as another node is more accessible. In the test with audio streams (approx. 120 kBit / s) and VoIP phone calls (approx. 60 kBit / s), this roaming worked mostly without dropouts. Multicast IPTV, such as that offered by Deutsche Telekom under the Entertain brand name, was not passed on by Google Wifi. With VoIP, no interruptions were found in the test run. The audio stream occasionally paused briefly when the radio cell was changed, but it was barely audible. It only tore off completely once.

WiFi features

All current distribution systems work with two fast WLAN modules that supply clients on the two radio bands 2.4 and 5 GHz simultaneously via two MIMO streams (IEEE 802.11n with a maximum of 300 Mbit / s gross and 11ac with 867 Mbit / s). The backbone usually also runs through these modules, so that a node uses up some of the capacity that is otherwise available to the clients. Better WLAN distributors such as Netgear Orbi and Linksys Velop, on the other hand, have a third 5 GHz radio module reserved for the backbone. In Netgear's most expensive Orbi variant, the RBK50, this even works at twice the speed (four streams, 1733 MBit / s). Google Wifi, however, belongs to the savings category with only two wireless modules, which explains part of the price difference.

In the 5 GHz band, which enables significantly higher wireless data rates than the 2.4 GHz band, Google Wifi only works on the lower channels 36 to 48 due to the lack of DFS (radar protection technology). This threatens mutual interference with neighboring WLANs, which also radio on these channels, so that all get less throughput. Google justifies the lack of DFS with the waiting times when changing channels in the 5 GHz band (60 seconds above channel 48, even 10 minutes for weather radar channels 120–128), which can lead to disruptive interruptions. At the same time, clients should then switch to the ongoing 2.4 GHz WiFi from Google Wifi by themselves. Google is investigating how the interruptions can be minimized and DFS may want to submit it later.

In the WLAN test against an Aspire V3 notebook as a client, Google Wifi performed well: We measured over 20 meters through walls, depending on the orientation of the node and notebook, between a good 55 and a very good 95 MBit / s at 2.4 GHz -Tape. At 5 GHz, it was similarly fast (52 to 105 Mbit / s), but that can only be considered satisfactory because a lot more would be possible here. The WLAN distributors Netgear Orbi (RBK50) and Linksys Velop, which have been tested by c't so far, also serve their clients with only 2-stream WLAN and therefore deliver a similar throughput in this situation.

Because Google Wifi is clearly dependent on orientation, it is worth trying to optimize the illumination of the apartment by rotating it. According to our results, the nodes radiate a little better towards the front.

The WLAN chip IPQ4019 in the nodes also supports multi-user MIMO in order to actually supply several MU-MIMO-capable clients in the 5 GHz band with data at the same time. This increases the total throughput of the radio cell, which results in more bandwidth for everyone. According to the chip manufacturer Qualcomm, even the narrow 2-stream WLAN from Google Wifi should ideally get 40 percent more throughput. Apparently, however, Google did not activate MU-MIMO, because we could not determine any gain with two single-stream Linksys WUSB6100M adapters.

Backbone throughput and power consumption

A repeater node can forward the connection to a stationary client via an Ethernet cable, for example to a PC or a set-top box. We measured 55 to 113 Mbit / s over 20 meters with Google Wifi. The more expensive competitors can already set themselves apart here: Velop managed twice as much (115 to 223 Mbit / s) and Orbi went one step further (304 to 321 Mbit / s).

If the wirelessly reconnected notebook was an additional 6 meters further and through walls from the repeater, Google Wifi achieved a throughput of 68 Mbit / s (2.4 GHz) or 50 Mbit / s (5 GHz). In the test, the client always got enough data rate to be able to use a VDSL 50 connection.

But in this situation Orbi shows what a separate backbone can do: a few months ago we measured 139 Mbit / s net in the same setup, i.e. more than twice as much as Google Wifi delivered when the client was connected in the 5 GHz band . This means that downlink rates from VDSL vectoring or fast cable connections can also be exploited over the greater distance.

The power consumption of the Google WiFi nodes was pleasantly low at 3.3 watts (one Ethernet port occupied). A Google Wifi system with two nodes (together 6.3 watts) will result in electricity costs of around 17 euros per year with continuous operation and 30 cents / kWh. The status light in the case detail can be dimmed until it goes out.

With the competition you have to be prepared for higher electricity costs because of the third wireless module: A Velop system drew around 10 watts in the c't test, Orbi RBK50 a bit more (12 watts), but you also get more WLAN performance .

Router properties

On the WAN side, Google Wifi supports DHCP, static addresses and PPPoE. It works with normal Internet connections, but not, for example, with the VDSL from Deutsche Telekom if it still works with VLAN tagging.

In DHCP mode, the router node transferred data at Gigabit Ethernet wirespeed (940 Mbit / s), with PPPoE it was a little less (500/446 Mbit / s down / upstream). Its NAT performance is also sufficient for the next generation of Internet connections. The internal IPv4 address range could not be changed, the router node always works with 192.168.86.x / 24.

In the device overview of the app, you can give priority to certain clients (QoS), always assign the same internal address to them via DHCP reservation and also set up port forwarding. The latter is currently only possible for IPv4 traffic. Google Wifi already supports IPv6, but you have to activate the protocol manually. IPv6 hosts could then be pinged from the Internet. This can be seen as a small security flaw if you want to hide hosts from the evil Internet. But Windows 10 does not respond to IPv6 pings in the factory state and ping responses can be switched off on other PC operating systems (stealth mode).

Google is still working on IPv6 releases. DNS requests via IPv6 are currently only possible with Google's DNS servers, but that too should change with the upcoming firmware. Google has released six updates in the eight months since the system was released in the United States.

On request, Google Wifi can create a guest WLAN that is separate from the internal network. Furthermore, you can limit the time of the internet access of your children in the "family WLAN" and also "pause" it manually. Obviously, a protection of minors is also in preparation: The router node responded to port 8081 with the text "Hmm ... this site may not be allowed" and the advice that you should contact your parents.

Conclusion, diagnostics and smart home

The Google Wifi app helps to find and eliminate network problems with a network check in three parts: It tests the speed of the Internet connection against Google servers, which gives an indication of whether acute streaming jolts are occurring in your own network or in that of the provider.

It also checks the radio connections between the nodes (mesh test) so that you can see where a slight shift or rotation can improve the situation. In the third step, the app tests how well the device it is running on is connected to the Google Wifi node.

A look at the network overview shows who is causing what proportion of traffic: after tapping the device icon, the app shows the current download and upload speed for each gadget. The internet symbol also gives you a real-time display of the internet connection and a history that goes back up to 60 days.

In addition to their WLAN, the Google Wifi nodes also contain a ZigBee interface for smart home automation. You can use it to control Philips' Hue lights, for example. Google has integrated this into its on.here cloud service.

If you have paved the way for visitors to the guest WLAN, you should also be able to give them access to certain devices via on.here, for example for the lamps in the guest room or for streaming your own films on the smart TV. We couldn't try that out quickly due to the lack of material.

Summarized

The big plus of Google Wifi is not the hardware, because thanks to their separate wireless backbones, other WLAN distribution systems bring noticeably more throughput where it matters - at a distance. The pound with which Google Wifi can proliferate is the very well-made app for Android and iOS, which makes it easy to set up and maintain the WiFi distribution system.

Anyone who can come to terms with the need to integrate their home network into the Google universe and just want "Internet everywhere" in their house and apartment will find a good offer in Google Wifi. The little quirks that we found in the first test should be fixed in the next few months.

But if it depends on the radio throughput, because you want to use a really fast internet connection even in the last corner, then you have to spend a little more money and you will be happier with Linksys Velop or Netgear Orbi.

If you have already extended the WLAN of your router with a repeater and thus achieve enough throughput, then there is no reason to switch. Even those who do not want to replace their Fritzbox with Google Wifi are usually just as good and cheaper with a suitable Fritz repeater as a supplement. (ea)

[Update 26.6.2017 10:50: passage on MU-MIMO added to the WLAN features.]