Google has launched their new Nest Wifi system which is one part home network router and one part smart speaker. However, Google has chosen to launch with only Wi-Fi 5 support into the their device.
Here’s what we know about the device and hint its not the chip set. Google actually filed a confidentiality letter with the FCC that kept it from releasing photographs of the device’s boards. Here’s what we do know the previous iteration Google Wifi was AC1200 this new system is AC2200.
Now, the AC number on the box means effectively nothing its basically a nonsense number for speeds you will never get but there is a bit of truth to it. We can assume that there is one 2.4GHz 2×2 radio and one 5GHz 2×2 radio on the points and an identical setup on the router its self.
We also know the device supports Wi-Fi 5 instead of Wi-Fi 6 but Googles reasoning which while questionable isn’t completely false.
VentureBeat had asked Nest Wifi Product Manager Chris Chan to explain the lack of support for Wi-Fi 6.
You do see a lot of routers with Wi-Fi 6 built in, but it charges quite a bit of a premium in order to get that, and in fact, you need to have Wi-Fi 6-compatible other devices in order for it to be a faster experience.”Chris Chan – Nest Wifi Product Manager @ Google
Chan’s explanation is pretty much on point the crux of the issue is that Wi-Fi 6 is only useful if you have many devices on the network that can support it. Most of the anti congestion features in Wi-Fi 6 really only work if almost all the devices on the network support 6. Right now, Wi-Fi 6 is a nice to have it’s not going to be that useful for most users due to the lack of support among device manufacturers.
However, I question the comment that he stated pertaining to cost when he claimed the inclusion of Wi-Fi 6 in Nest would be “hundreds of dollars more expensive”. This seems a little bit over the top you can get a Wi-Fi 6 router from TP-Link for $70 currently on Walmart.com.
Now, I can’t speak to the cost of chips but if TP-Link can build an entire Wi-Fi 6 router and sell it for under $70 I imagine Google could add it to their own device. I don’t see it costing hundreds of hundreds of dollars maybe $50 at the most but certainly not hundreds.
But his point is right that there is effectively no benefit to adding support to the service as most devices don’t support it. Consumers often times have many devices that don’t even support 5GHz bands so unless you’re running the latest greatest devices you’re unlikely to get any benefit of Wi-Fi 6 even if you had it.