Google Boosts Smart Home Chops with Bandwidth-Shaping Wi-Fi Router

By Tara Seals, Contributing Writer  |  October 13, 2015

Google (News - Alert) is solidifying its place within the connected home with the launch of a sleek new Wi-Fi router. Its main differentiator is being smart, and giving consumers the ability to shape their own bandwidth.

It’s not application-aware per se – that would be a bombshell perk – but it does allow users to prioritize devices, so that if you want to settle in after work by binge-watching From Dusk till Dawn or Under the Dome, you can make sure your laptop gets the biggest slice of bandwidth in the house.

The $199 router is dubbed OnHub, and true to its name, it’s meant to be a central point for managing connections. During setup, OnHub searches the available airwaves (such as the Wi-Fi installed in the house from a cable provider) and selects the best channel for the fastest connection. A unique antenna design and smart software, meanwhile, work in the background, automatically adjusting OnHub to avoid interference to keep the network at peak performance.

The router interfaces with Google's On app, which is available on Android (News - Alert) and iOS. It tells users how much bandwidth devices are using, lets them run a network check, and if there’s an issue with the Wi-Fi connection, the app offers suggestions to help. It also keeps track of Wi-Fi passwords and allows users to text or email them to visiting friends and relatives. It also automatically updates with new features and the latest security upgrades, and can support smart devices that use Bluetooth Smart Ready, Weave or 802.15.4.

In many ways, it takes a page from web-scale IT, which assumes that digital environments have multi-dimensional concepts such as scalability, consistency, tolerance, versioning etc. Its main purpose is to avoid bottlenecks, move with the user’s preferences, and re-architect bandwidth as needed, on the fly.

OnHub, which is being made with TP-LINK, is one of the first shots across the bow for the company on the smart home device front. But Google plans to make a real go of the space, and noted that plans to design new OnHub devices with other hardware partners in the future. The next announcement will be with a second hardware partner, ASUS, later this year.

Of course, OnHub isn’t Google’s only smart home project. Last year it bought Nest, a smart thermostat maker, for $3.2 billion.

Tara Seals is a contributing writer to TMCnet.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere