A report out of The Information today claims that as early as this summer, Google will begin selling low-cost, commercial-grade Wi-Fi equipment to small and medium size businesses to greatly improve the level of connectivity they offer their customers, as well as that of the business itself.

The directive is being headed by Google's Access team, the group behind Google Fiber. The team's goals aren't detailed at great length, but here's what I was able to gather.

First, this new directive is not a Google ISP - Google merely wants to sell businesses the routing and AP hardware in order to increase their level of Wi-Fi support. The point is to provide customers, and employees, commercial-grade Wi-Fi access at a fraction of the cost of solutions sold by the likes of Cisco. The Wi-Fi network would be connected to the internet by the business owner's existing ISP. The backend of the Wi-Fi network would be powered by web-based software supplied by Google, running on the Google Compute Engine platform, meaning the network could be managed from anywhere with an internet connection. The software would be free - the only cost is the hardware.

On the consumer side, this initiative would serve as the groundwork for something Google is internally calling "Hotspot 2.0." Did you just get chills? I just got chills. Hotspot 2.0 is a separate but related initiative also being spearheaded by the Access team, the point of which is to ease the annoyance of having to go through the process of connecting to a new hotspot manually and agreeing to some generic, useless T&C garbage before actually being able to get on the internet. Google wants anyone with a Google account and a mobile device to simply be able to connect to any Hotspot 2.0-ready network with zero interaction from the user - totally seamless. That'd be nice.

Google is also going to offer business owners the benefit of insights regarding customers who use their Wi-Fi networks (I would guess through its Analytics engine), though The Information wasn't clear on exactly what Google would disclose. Undoubtedly, Google itself would also gain enhanced insight from business using its Wi-Fi equipment, helping the company better target ads to users.

The benefits to customers would be obvious: more reliable, easier-to-use Wi-Fi with commercial-grade security and capacity. This is all just in the planning stages, though - like many Google projects, this Wi-Fi directive could get the axe at any time, we'll just have to wait and see if it comes to be.

The information

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    I like all of this. First half seems to be a direct hit against companies like Meraki (now Cisco), while undercutting them on cost. The second seems destined to dramatically ease my access to WiFi hotspots while allowing the provider to gain information from Google about usage metrics, which was likely part of the reason they wanted me to sign in the begin with.

    • MeCampbell30

      I'm fairly sure they are just going to be reselling Cisco or whoever's equipment and eating the cost.

      But I agree this is a good thing. Wifi everywhere!

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        I kind of doubt that. Google does have experience building commercial networking hardware (after all, it makes many of its servers and networking equipment, and has apparently become very, very good at it). At the least I'd expect them to partner with someone much smaller and either co-design the hardware or simply design it themselves and contract with fabricators / manufacturers abroad. Cisco wouldn't be interested in letting Google pay to undercut its own business, I don't think.

        Really great article on Google's homegrown networking hardware / tech here: http://www.wired.com/2012/04/going-with-the-flow-google/

  • Matthew Fry

    I'd like some commercial grade wifi in my house.

    • Michael

      Take a look at Ubiquiti products if you haven't already. Recently replaced the WLAN side of my home network with a EdgeRouter Lite and UniFi AP. Unlike my Linksys AP that I had scripted to reboot every night just to keep it stable, the UniFi has been online uninterrupted since day one.Uptime: 2 months, 3 weeks, 4 days

      • GraveUypo

        eh i have some crappy stuff here that has not been rebooted (on purpose) once in it's entire life span. that's like 4 years now.

        • Michael

          Not really sure if you want a cookie or a gold star for that accomplishment. I was simply attesting to the stability of the Ubiquiti product line with my own evidence which simply can't be any longer than the day I took it out of the box.

          For the record the Linksys WRT54G v2 that it replaced was 11 years old and still ran fine save for no N support and limited bandwidth. Spent the last 4 years of its life in an unconditioned attic space in Minnesota on PoE.

          • GraveUypo

            you implied you need special high-quality routers just to not need to reboot everyday, when it's clearly not the case.

          • joser116

            I'm on your side. I have a $59 router from an uncommon brand and I don't have to reboot it everyday. It goes on forever. Heck, it's primary purpose is not even to be a router.

      • kermalou

        just installed two new Unifi AP in my office replacing Linksys. lets see how they hold up.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        What I'm looking for is a way to hook up multiple APs into a mesh network to extend the range. Regular repeaters just create a 2nd network, which sucks.

        Does your solution do this? I've dealt with six setups in large office buildings with a single ssid where your connection doesn't drop no matter where you move, and I want this for my house.

        • Michael

          The latest firmware for the Unifi line does indeed support zero handoff to do just what you are asking. There have been done bus with it but development is very responsive and there is a large community of support on the forums as well.


          They also have a fairly open beta program for the firmware that runs about 2 months ahead of stable releases.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Looks like I have much to learn.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Doesn't look like the version of AP I'd get, UniFi AP AC $299.00, supports zero handoff, which is both upsetting and shocking (it's their top of the line AP). That's the one I'd go for.

          • Michael

            It is coming though, sadly they missed the target date for it, but it is in development and they fully intend to support it soon.

            Below is a post in reference to 3.1.10. They have a 3.1.12RC that was released last Friday. Wireless Uplink for the UAP-Pro was added as promised, so movement is happening in the right direction.

            What are the known limitations for this release?

            1) Zero handoff for UAP-AC will not be in it.

            2) Wireless uplink for UAP-AC will not be in it.

            As mentioned in my very first post (http://community.ubnt.com/t5/UniFi-Beta/Any-news-Ubiquiti-3-2-0/td-p/703659/page/3), we plan to release a beta for ZH and Wireless Uplink within 30days of the actual target RC release of March17th. Obviously that date have passed. We are behind in ZH development for the UAP-AC, however, for Wireless Uplink for UAP-AC, we are getting close, so we will upload a version probably also within two weeks. Note that UAP AC Wireless Uplink and ZH will be added into a future branch after we do the official GA, to minimize impact and stability on current release.

        • Sootie

          At work we use a product made by Ruckus where we have a "zone director (basically a controller with a web interface)" and as many poe access points as we want and you can just wonder around between them seamlessly or go between offices on our WAN and just connect as normal. No idea how expensive it is but works well.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            That'd be key. If it's several $K or even over $600, it's not worth it.

        • Anon

          I use this: http://www.fritzbox.eu/en/products/FRITZWLAN_Repeater_300E/index.php
          I only see one network and even my dumbest gadgets are switching between the two devices seamlessly without noticing it.

          • Fraa

            I have the same one. I also have a NetGear powerline adapters, which works great (and also as an AP), but the signal doesn't really go very far. With the Fritz hooked up to it as a LAN-bridge I'm getting speeds around 70Mb/s throughout the whole house and its all the same SSID, works great!

        • Theratchetnclank

          I've only ever seem it happen so smooth on Cisco enterprise wireless all consumer ap solutions didn't really work for me.

      • nehpets

        We replaced a big-name AP that wouldn't stay online with a Ubiquity UniFi AP at the office a several months ago. It has been a fantastic upgrade so far. Setup and deployment was so easy that I kind of wish I had a bigger space to deploy a multi-AP network.

  • aaron cooper

    Count me in Google...

  • SVem26

    Tinfoil hats INCOMING!!!

  • remister

    I don't understand the tech jargon, so SHUTUP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

  • mrjayviper

    since it's low-cost, does it involved sending all data to Google for ad purposes?

    • A A Ron

      doesnt that go without saying almost?

    • cynojien

      Thats unlikely seeing as Google benefits from Wi-Fi being in more places for their location services. I'd imagine the move is to have more "commercial" places have free/open wifi for that purpose.

      • A A Ron

        is that the same thing? Location services = data about you being sent to Google to turn into $$ ??

    • kashtrey

      Well, HotSpot 2.0 will almost certainly tie your Google account (used for quick and easy sign in) to a business location that uses their equipment. But eh, I don't particularly care. So Google knows which particular coffee shops I go to, perhaps it will just mean I get some better offers at the specific locations I'm at.

  • blueshift

    i think the author wants to be take seriously, but he ends an article about google noting that we will benefit from 'commercial-grade security.'

    *face palm*

    • Brandon Roberts

      Don't put all yer eggs in one basket!

  • deltatux

    Have a feeling ads are going to be the things to subsidize the hardware and software...

    • Michael

      Just like ads subsidize your cable tv subscription, newspapers, magazines, sports venues, aw hell... life. I'd rather have a well targeted ad that I have a snowballs chance in hell of being interested in than random ads for mesothelioma and cat toys.

      • Kylecore

        I'm with you on this, downside is forgetting to use incognito and getting fap ads for 2 weeks lmao

  • Wesley Modderkolk

    As great as it sounds, the issue with Google is more that it becomes a God. It isn't healthy for us to depend on one single company.

    By 2040 we will all either work as slaves for Google, or live in exile without any technology.

    • Keg Man

      you're not wrong. these other companies better step it up and stop taking advantage of us or they will be getting screwed by the one and only technology company also. You gotta admit, Google is the coolest god right now

      • Wesley Modderkolk

        At the moment, yes. But being too reliant on a single provider is never good.

    • Kevin
      • Wesley Modderkolk

        Yep, conspiracy! Because they sure aren't using their power already to provide services to people at extremely low cost other companies can't even dream to compete with because their financial might allows them to.

        You can scream conspiracy all you want, but anyone who thinks that a dominant force that you can't live without won't abuse it's position of power is too trusting and delusional.

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    If that want to gain any ground in Europe - they are going to have to be a lot more forthcoming about what exactly the system is. Google will have to do filtering of the internet connection to ensure only legal content is accessed and if someone does manage to access illegal content - Google need to be able to provide the business owner with detailed logs showing who accessed it, what they accessed and when. Otherwise in the UK (at least) the business owner is open to prosecution.

  • Ryanmax

    Isn't accurate news, see here http://goo.gl/kg5xRw

  • D.I.

    Call me when I can get gigabit internet.

  • mcnegro

    I'll pass. I'd rather risk overages on my LTE connection then have my browsing show up on a business owners analytics.

    I already use a custom hosts file on my phone to block all google ad related domains and most other advertising/analytics companies.

    • MJ

      You are using your LTE connection for PC Internet? Wow, that sucks...

      • mcnegro

        No. I use a cable modem for my PC.

        If I'm traveling with a laptop I do have an LTE modem I use with it. Public hotspots usually have much lower throughput than LTE. A lot of free hotspots rate limit clients to 1-3mbps.

        It's bad enough public hotspots are insecure, it's worse that they are now becoming an advertising/marketing tool.

    • Cerberus_tm

      You could just use a VPN on your phone...

  • Rob Mahon

    And with one firmware update, they've just deployed a city wide wifi network for all Google users. With VOIP services on this, they've just taken away a monstrous amount of need for many people to get a phone contract.

  • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

    I am not so sure it will work out -- I can't say for sure, but I am guessing that the business owner's internet service contract probably won't allow redistribution of the bandwidth commercially, and this plan is exactly that.

  • IcerC

    How about auto login at starbucks, Google!

  • Eduardo Mateos

    Meanwhile, Android has no WiFi roaming. No 802.11k and 802.11r.

    It's about time, Google...

  • mgamerz

    Well, CradlePoint has a run for its money now.

  • Raj Sb

    I wouldn't buy this from Google! You never know, one day, my corp email will have GoogleAds! They might want to scan everything thats passing through, because the router is theirs! :-) slowly, I start to dislike the way Google does things... Be good no evil.

  • HolyFreakingCrap

    The only way Google could do this successfully is if they partner with Asus to make the routers. Google has an existing relationship with Asus so this is promising.

  • JPB

    I hope this comes to my neighborhood quickly. I use Verizon Fios which I like much more than the atrocious Cablevision I had before. The only issue is that their #1 neighborhood competitor has blanketed the commercial neighborhood with oh-so-handy wifi access that is, of course, useless to me since I don't have Cablevision/Xfinity credentials to logon with.

    So, having frictionless login through my Gmail login would be sweet.

    I love that Google is going toe-to-toe with internet providers. Game on.

  • wolfkabal

    Any ideas on equipment yet? I'm guessing this is all beyond the standard home-router type AP where you could simply wipe it and put DD-WRT or whatever on it to free yourself of the Google software (for those who are paranoid) [I personally wouldn't care], but my work does deal in some sensitive data so.. yeah.

  • n1m0s

    I don't really see this being embraced by corporations immediately, especially considering you're allowing external access to the devices. However, this would be a good option for commercial establishments open to the public, like malls, hotels, restaurants, parks, etc. Cities could even look into deploying these across specific areas like CBDs to enhance connectivity options for the public.