The Nest Wifi + Mesh redeploy, day 1

As noted previously, the Nest Wifi + Mesh was an abject failure with lockups in my house. Support kept giving me things to try and 9 days later when it locked up again something else. Nothing did anything useful, and nothing looked like it was. I guarantee it’s because I move a whole lot more data than most, have 20 more IoT devices than anyone I know, but that’s besides the point – 6 year old Wi-Fi routers were handling this fine. 9 year old routers handled this fine. The Nest Wifi + Mesh claimed it could handle this fine.

TL;DR – put it in a different environment, expecting it to perform better, my annoyance with Google’s product support on display.

This is day 55 of me and the Nest Wifi + Mesh. This is day 55 of me having to type Wifi as opposed to Wi-Fi or WiFi because that’s the name and capitalization they chose.

The Nest Wifi + Mesh office redeploy

So, I’ve decided to redeploy the Nest Wifi + Mesh to a much easier task – supporting a 30,000 square feet office building’s open Wi-Fi. Basically it’s a network you can come in, join, save your data, not a mission critical thing (and I have the ability to pull and restore power from it remotely.) We have multiple networks people can jump to if needed. Most tenants have their own. It’s a thing.

Nest Wifi + Mesh units located on opposite sides of the atrium.
Base unit in alcove 10 feet left of elevator shaft on left. Mesh unit to right of metal staircase. 62 feet separation according to a measuring app Moasure

As it’s not a mission critical network, it seemed like it would be interesting to see if the Nest Wifi + Mesh could cover approximately 10,000 square feet of space over three floors. Now, this sounds like a lot, but the center of the building is a large atrium area and the only real issue is large wooden doors, steel frames, and no ability to centrally locate a Wi-Fi AP because 1) ceiling is glass, 2) I am not getting up there 3) main floor has no ethernet wiring centrally located.

I have now plugged the thing into a complicated network. Let me stress this: It’s complicated. My home network was not. I’ve buried the Nest Wifi + Mesh down two levels of NAT, there’s packet and traffic inspection somewhere above it, and all sorts of fun IPS stuff. The sort of things that literally no other Wi-Fi AP I’ve ever had have had a problem with.

We shall see.

Nest Wifi + Mesh coverage

Nest Wifi + Mesh claims it's great, or good, depending on which line you read.
Which is it Google? Is it great, or is it good?
Need to rename this as the name carried over from my house

The base unit being over 60 feet away from the mesh unit results in…. Great connectivity. I mention this because Google support strenuously claiming they worked best when no more than 20 feet away when I told them that there was an issue at 14 feet. The Mesh unit, when connected at 62 feet through a wall and 2 sets of metal railing, I’m connected to the mesh on a floor above the Mesh unit with a foot of concrete, rebar, and steel between me and the unit.

Here’s my Speedtest when connected to the Mesh AP from another floor, Mesh AP connected 62 feet away:

Speedtest on the Nest Wifi + Mesh unit. I was connected to the Mesh unit, about a floor away. Mesh unit was 62 feet from the base unit. I'm impressed.

My speedtest when connected to the Mesh 14 feet away at my house after it started exhibiting symptoms before the base locked up was somewhere around 3mbit. Wish I’d screenshotted that. That 14 feet was 10 feet unobstructed, then turn and 3.5 feet to the left. Usually was also listed as great but prior to the lockup started going from great, weak, disconnected.

So, total distance from base I have achieved is 62 feet base to Mesh, 22-30 feet Mesh to next floor. 248/217mbit speed. The hardware is solid.

Keep in mind, Wi-Fi / Mesh are line of sight. There’s not a whole lot between my base unit and the Mesh AP other than distance. Wi-Fi can travel extremely far as long as it doesn’t have to go through a lot and my guess is the connection between the base and the mesh is only impeded by 2 sheets of drywall and a couple of metal poles that the signal can probably go around.

Distance is impressive

The distance I’m able to achieve and still have decent bandwidth is impressive. What I do find odd however is there are areas where it seems fine, I have bars, I’ve done a speedtest, and a couple of minutes later I’ll find I’ve been disconnected and shunted onto one of my other networks. I mean, this is really not an issue for most, but that it’s giving up with a signal makes me wonder if I’m getting lost in an attempted handoff. Really not sure on this, I will stress greatly at the extreme distances this is working at this is just me noticing something, not complaining about it.

Redeployment issues on the Nest Wifi + Mesh

This is also not something I expect people to have an issue with, but it’s what I ran into. There’s no easy way to move it from one home to another in the Google Home app (you cannot tap the home to change it. Yes, I’ve moved other devices with no issues.) The only way I found to do this was to factory reset the unit from within the app. This removed it from the home but for some reason it didn’t come back up as something I could add.

The Mesh unit did. The base unit that I factory reset did not. I learned there’s a soft button on the bottom, pressed and reset it there and the thing came back up and was addable to my work “home.” After it came back up things were pretty much normal.

I removed personal results and disabled the microphone from the Mesh side as I don’t particularly want people to be able to do anything with an unsecured Google Assistant.

Day 1 – it works

Were I not trepidatious and had the experience at home with a nearly default Nest Wifi + Mesh setup I’d be really impressed. As it stands, knowing that in my simple, but lotta traffic environment, it was a piece of garbage, I’ve got everything set for a fall back to the old network. I can literally press two buttons on my phone and bye bye Nest, hello old network that’s survived the test of time.

Future / past Nest Wifi + Mesh coverage

The Home test

Day 1 – initial impressions
Week 1 – the first lockup
Week 3 – the thing operated ok
Week 5 – Yikes, it’s so unreliable I’m going to replace it
Week 6 – Playing with Family Safety / restricted while trying to fix the thing
Week 6+ – all the lockups I’ve had with the unit
Week 7 – after a suggestion from a reader lockups appear to have resolved – yeah, no, they didn’t 15 hours later
Week 7 – have removed the unit from my network and purchased a different brand router because it just wasn’t stable

After giving up, the corporate test
Day 1 – initial impressions in commercial world (day 55)
Day 7 – locks up with next to no usage, no devices connected (day 62) – this one contains a possible retraction
Sometime after day 7 – soapbox, I am on it.
Day 21 – Mesh unit disappears, two reboots later it’s back (day 83)
Day 30 or so, giving up

Related to the product line

The Nest Wifi Pro having issues – how utterly shocking

Product links: Amazon, Google Nest Store

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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