Networking & Communications

Google's OnHub Wi-Fi routers take a novel approach to guest networks

Guest Wi-Fi was a major missing feature from Google’s OnHub routers at launch, but Google is making up for lost time with clever execution.

With the last firmware and companion app updates for OnHub, homeowners have complete control over which connected devices guests may access. For instance, guests can be allowed to take over the living room Chromecast, but not the TV in the master bedroom or the office printer.

With a typical router, setting up a guest network usually involves providing all-or-nothing access. Either guests are allowed to connect with other networked devices, or they’re not. OnHub is trying to address an emerging scenario in which guests should be allowed access to certain connected devices, but not all of them.

It’s not hard to imagine where this approach might go next. Both OnHub routers—TP-Link and Asus each manufacture their own versions—are packed with radios for Bluetooth Smart, Weave, and 802.15.4 smart-home protocols, along with regular old Wi-Fi. Down the road, OnHub owners could potentially provide guest access to lighting, window blinds, and ceiling fans in certain rooms, while keeping door locks and thermostats off-limits.

OnHub users can learn more by heading to the on.here website, which is also where guests must go to log into the local network.

Why this matters: OnHub routers are far behind traditional routers in terms of performance, and at launch the lack of other standout features made the $200 asking price tough to justify. Guest Wi-Fi won’t do much to change that equation, but it does hint at where Google is going as the company tries to reimagine home networking around a broader range of connected devices.

IDG Insider


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