Google will launch its WiFi product in New Zealand on Thursday.
Google WiFi is a hardware system designed to spread a strong wi-fi signal around a home, so even rooms that used to get a weak wireless signal will get fast broadband.
It's billed as much easier to set up than the router and wi-fi extender setup usually used to address "dead spot" situations (US reviews have been broadly positive, such as this recent one from CNBC; tech specs are on the official Google WiFi page here).
The company says Google Wifi uses a technology called mesh Wi-Fi. Within our mesh network, each Google Wifi point creates a high-powered connection, and the different Wifi points work together to determine the best path for your data.
The result is Wi-Fi coverage in every corner of your house, not just right next to the router, Google says. A review unit is due to turn up at NBR Towers later this week (Netgear's rival Orbi system is also incoming).
A smartphone app for controlling Google WiFi lets you put broadband on pause for kids’ devices, or create recurring pauses for dinner or homework with scheduled pause. It also shows you which devices are connected and how much bandwidth they’re using. You can also prioritise devices within your network so you can stream that latest TV episode without interruptions, Google says.
Google Wifi will be sold as a 1-pack for $229 (for an apartment or small home) and a 3-pack for $599 from Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi. The idea is you buy enough units as you need to cover your house. It's horses for courses, but a Google animation has two units covering an average ground floor.
A rep for Google says 24/7 phone and chat support will be available free.
While it seems a technically adroit product, the broader question remains: Who does Google want to make wi-fi hardware?
In the US, Google WiFi can be seen as a staging post for the Google Home smart speaker, which utilises Google's virtual assistant, which in turn hooks users up with Google's search engine and all the advertising and marketing revenue opportunities that entails.
Google's local spokesman says there are no plans to launch Google Home in New Zealand at this point, however. Kiwis who've imported a Google Home unit themselves say it works well, including its handling of the New Zilund accent.
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