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Live From GoogleFi

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Live from Mountain View — This morning I got an email invitation welcoming me to try out Google’s Mountain View WiFi network as one of the trusted testers. I’m not sure if it was a random invite or not, after writing a bit about Google’s Mountain View plans, but I felt like a lucky golden ticket winner with a trip to the chocolate factory–OK, so I have no life!

So I’m posting this from Rengstorff Park in Mountain View and the connection is pretty good: between 2 and 3 bars out of 4 on my Mac. Works well enough from here. I might drive around a bit and follow the nifty map that Google set up and update this post later. I won’t divulge how to get onto the network, but trust me it’s a no-brainer, even though right now trusted testers can’t see the SSID number.

The connection isn’t secure at the moment because I haven’t downloaded Google’s VPN client, like the email suggests I do so soon. The email says “Simply visit to download Google Secure Access and use it with Google WiFi. Note that you will only be able to download the Google Secure Access VPN client when associated with the Google WiFi network–the download page will not work from any other Internet connection.” But that link doesn’t seem to be working for now.

The trusted tester email also addresses indoor coverage of the network: “The best way to pull Google WiFi indoors is to get a high power WiFi Modem. These modems work best when placed by a window facing the closest Google WiFi radio and typically have an Ethernet interface where you can connect a home wired/wireless router just as you would connect to a DSL or Cable Modem.”

“The best publicly-available WiFi Modem for our network we have seen so far is the PePLink Surf 200BG. This unit has one of the highest power levels, helping it stay connected to the network. There are several other (cheaper) modems which may work fine in your situation, though power is very important. There are a couple local vendors who have PePLink WiFi modems in stock and can help to answer your questions.”

Well, looks like the network is running well enough for now, but Google’s keeping the trusted tester population small to work out all the bugs. Mountain View residents, you’re almost there!

32 Responses to “Live From GoogleFi”

  1. Got access to the GoogleWiFi yesterday. I think it is finally rolled out for everyone. You need to login to a Google account for it to work. The first request directs you to the Google page which asks you to login.

    I was getting download speeds of around 60 – 70 KB /s. Haven’t tested the upload yet. Further I was working from inside my house which is about 100 – 200 metres from the nearest WiFi node.

  2. I guess the questions most people want anwered are:

    1. Speed of the conenction

    2. NATd address?

    3. How well do some basic stuff work (packet lose and ping)
      a. Web Browsing (i’d assume normally)
      b. Email (work normally I’d assume)
      c. IM/IRC
      d. Skype/Google Talk voice
      e. Gaming

    4. How is platform support. I’m assume VPN clients for Mac and Windows… 64 bit Windows? Linux?

    5. How well does it work on the move?

    And I’m sure there are others.

  3. You cannot see the SSID. You have to be a “trusted tester” as well as enter the SSID in your WiFi setup in order to get Google WiFi working.


  4. As I mentioned on the latest story about this (missed this one when it came out) I use witopia’s personalvpn which uses openvpn and gives you a real deal routable IP address which masks your location and identity. I had tried some others and found them to be sloooooow as molasses. hotspotvpn is another openvpn based one that i hear is good. I use a Mac and just found witopia’s setup much easier because they send you an installer package where hotspotvpn’s had you doing all this manual config work. either one is a much better choice than Google vpn for obvious reasons. :)

  5. I’d be interested to know if you get a real IP or just a NAT’ed connection. Is the IP you got 10...* or 192.168..? I can’t imagine it would be a real IP, but if you want to use a SIP phone, a real IP would be ideal.

  6. This could serve the mobile market quite well. Providing free wireless network to mobile devices could open a host of new possibilities, such as using skype to make free calls around the world.

    They could place sponsored ads on Google Maps used over cellular phones. Google already has that service (without the ads). Google’s CEO himself announced that the next big thing is the cellular market. Maybe that’s what they have in mind.

  7. angelsfan59

    i wonder how the microsoft campus there is recieving it’s signal… there seems to be a giant dead zone above it, and no access points closeby ROFL

  8. Anonymous

    Couldn’t they use something open and proven?

    For instance OpenVPN is very nice. Has good windows support, good Linux support, good OS X support and is completely open source. It is based on the proven SSL/TLS framework for certificates and encryption.

    It doesn’t suffer from the ordinary problems other VPN solutions offer.. it’s very simple to setup from the firewall end. It can work over various networks and can even work through a HTTP proxy.

    Sorry, but it seems to me to make more sense to use something that is proven and simple with already widespread deployment and support rather then some new propriatory thing.

    Unless of course this Google VPN is just a special google-branded openvpn client/administrative tool. :-)

  9. I would assume the end goal is always to provide better search results. Knowing where poeple are going will only help the results and push the spamaway from the search engines and more towards other means, email, adware etc.

  10. RoeBoeDog

    HELLO – they can track you because you will be going thru their network to get to the web. They don’t need spec. software. I can see everything that moves thru my wireless router, don’t you think they can?

  11. I’m sure they’d be able to track you even without the VPN client expecially if you have to login to use it.

    I agree.. this article didn’t really tell you anything about it besides that it works and you can get a wifi modem for your house

  12. PanMan

    Come on OM, some more details! :)
    What down (and up) speeds do you get, where does the traffic go to, is there a login page with banners? Are you forced to see ads at certain other times? (and how would they enforce that?). Some Wifi providers block everything by pointing their DNS at their own page until you log in, does this work the same?
    Nice to see it working, but we want to know MORE! :)
    Keep up the good work!

  13. I live in Mountain View and live right across from the San Antonio Caltrain station. I got the masked SSID – yes, very obvious. I get about 60% strength from my ThinkPad when I went under the base station.

    Google VPN client? Which means Google can track which sites >users are visiting? Sure, they want to serve
    users (Ad $$? no:-))

    Well, according to the product manager, that is not the plan…

    “Trusted Tester” as well,

  14. WiFi supporter

    Google VPN client? Which means Google can track which sites users are visiting? Sure, they want to serve users (Ad $$? no:-)) First, Google Desktop & now Google WiFi – no thanks! Also, thanks Mt. View, please make sure Google WiFi stays only in your town :-)