Google WiFi in my house

My Scenario

I have a complicated home network scenario and was attracted to Google WiFi for a lot of reasons. Hopefully, PARTS of my scenario will match what you are thinking of doing.

I’ve lived in my house for over 10 years and, when we first bought it, I had the foresight to install Cat6 cabling everywhere. We had a non-TV house even then and we watched video in several rooms in the house over PCs. WiFi did exist then but it was ‘a bit rubbish’ and streaming video over WiFi was not possible as WiFi technology was simply too slow.

At the time, all the bits of a wired network COULD work at either 10/100 or 1000 Mbits/sec.1000 was fast then and it’s still fast now (faster than any WiFi you’ll get) although 10,000 is also now possible IIRC. But most network ‘bits’ I had were 10 or 100 speeds. Over time I gradually upgraded these ‘bits’ – eg the commonly shared wires and ports they plugged into were first to be upgraded as was my house’s central computer and its Gigabit network card.

As a keen cyclist, I am required by law to have a ‘pain shed’. This is basically a wooden garden shed that I have a stationary cycle in, to avoid getting wet when cycling in the winter. OK, my ‘pain shed’ is a bit flashier than it sounds (oak floors…fancy!) but when I built my ‘pain shed’ I couldn’t be bothered to run Cat6 cables under the garden as it would have involved a trip to the local computer shop and I had some slower Cat 5 cable to hand. The bottom line is that I regret digging that very long trench and putting some not-so-good cable in it. This ‘shed’ is about 30-40m from the house which is, annoyingly, slightly further than most WiFi signals seem to want to reliably travel at any half-decent speed. Grrrrr.

Fast forward to 2018-2019.

Modern WiFi seems to now be ‘quite good’. All our family and friends have lots of WiFi devices which they use all the time and my beautiful 1000Mbit/sec network points seem to get little use 🙁 . Furthermore I have a stupid amount of Bluetooth devices as a result of this blog and, apparently, that can interfere with WiFi signals and slow down WiFi devices.

I have re-used old modem/routers (10/100) to create about 6 WiFi access points with different names around the house. Almost all of these cannot be PROPERLY configured as a WiFi access point and work most, but not all, of the time. This is annoying and wastes my life fixing it. For example when ‘something’ goes wrong, as it often does, whole segments of my home network don’t work.

I also have several 10/100 switches (that’s like your modem but without an internet connection and no wi-fi ie one input cable can serve many output cables and create many new network points) because I was too tight to buy proper 10/100/1000 ones. Having said that, my central switch/hub IS 10/100/1000 – I wasn’t THAT stupid.

My network provider in the UK is TalkTalk. They have a pact with the devil and are the most awful company I have ever dealt with. For some inexplicable reason, I have been a customer of theirs for over 15 years (including a company they bought). I would probably recommend self-flagellation more than I would recommend TalkTalk they really are THAT bad but they are also cheap. 10 or so years ago their broadband/ADSL speed was alright but even with the introduction of ADSL2 they seem to have contrived a way to slow my connection down every year even though I live 1km from the nearest exchange. My impending upgrade to slow fibre may well revert me to a similar speed I had 10 years ago. that’s not surprising as the EXACT same cables will be used going into my house – TalkTalk will argue that the fibre goes from the exchange to the box 100m away at the end of my street and that will speed things up…hmmm…or they will just turn a metaphorical speed tap on somewhere.

Fast forward to my cunning plan

  1. Spend a stupid amount of money on Fibre broadband.
  2. Rationalise the WiFi part of my network
  3. Boost the speed to the network bits that support the WiFi

Fibre

That’s easy. You just spend more money.

Google WiFi ReviewOver the course of several hours, I moaned to TalkTalk and eventually got a free £30 WiFi super hub router thingy. Several hours well spent. My time really is worth so little. Grrr.

The router arrived but the only configuration possible seems to be to turn the outside aesthetic lights on or off. the firmware is riddled with bugs and that is documented on the TalkTalk forums going back several months. eg it is not possible to set DHCP to cover a range of IP addresses.

Crucially: This WiFi Hub from router has Gigabit Network Ports on the back and supports both ADSL2 and fibre. The WiFi on it is pretty decent but, for the purposes of Google WiFi, you turn off the TalkTalk WiFi.

Rationalise the WiFi part of the network

This involved throwing away all my WiFi access points and turning off WiFi on the new superhub router thingy.

I then bought 3 Google WiFi pods and now have a stable and generally good MESH WiFi network.

I had previously used the IP range 192.168.1.X.

Essentially Google WiFi CAN support that in a couple of ways but I didn’t want to take the risk of making a bridging connection to my existing router when, as I said earlier, the firmware is essentially bug-ridden.

So I moved to 192.168.86.X as mandated by Google WiFi. This then meant that all my printers and some other devices stopped working as they were hard-wired as 192.168.1.Something.

More work. But it’s nearly all done apart from my QS EMFIT device.

Boost Network Speed

I can’t really speed up the link to my pain shed but I’m not too fussed about that.

I have 3 network switches one of which (my central hub) is a Gigabit switch. I need to upgrade the other two and I need a new one on the top floor of my house as well.

In fact, I bought one on fleabay last night. It probably won’t work when it gets here

I hard-wired the house myself years ago with Cat 6 cable. That should all be good. But I need to check that every point (20?) is firing properly at Gigabit speeds. Some are but a few might not be, possibly due to kinks in the cabling.

I also need to have a sort through of my many Cat5/6 patch cables and make sure they all support Gigabit speeds.

My tower/desktop PCs and laptops all have Gigabit network cards but the laptop seems temperamental. #NewLaptop for my partner.