Google defends its use of Wi-Fi 5 in Nest Wifi

Photo of Google defends its use of Wi-Fi 5 in Nest Wifi

Enlarge / A Google Wifi Router sits next to a Google Wifi Point in this product shot from the Made by Google 2019 event. (credit: Google (video still))

Google's new Nest Wifi is notable largely for two things—having a built-in smart speaker and digital assistant in every node and not using the newest Wi-Fi technology at all.

We still don't know exactly what chipsets are used in the replacement for Google Wifi; Google's not telling, and the company has submitted confidentiality letters to the FCC that kept it from needing to release photographs of the devices' boards for now, as well. All we know for sure is that the Nest Wifi Points are AC1200 (like the original Google Wifi) and the Nest Wifi Router is AC2200. Consumer AC speed ratings are largely bogus, but this should translate into one 2.4GHz 2x2 radio and one 5GHz 2x2 radio on the Points as well as one 2.4GHz 2x2 radio with two 5GHz 2x2 radios on the Nest Router.

We also know that Google decided to go with Wi-Fi 5 in the new kit rather than Wi-Fi 6. Google wasn't the first to make that call—Amazon's new Eero models also continue to use Wi-Fi 5 chipsets—but Google's rationale for the use of the older technology raised eyebrows at Ars Orbiting Headquarters. When VentureBeat asked Nest Wifi Product Manager Chris Chan to explain the lack of Wi-Fi 6, he pointed to both cost and performance. He said, "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."

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