If you already have, or are thinking of signing up to Google Fiber, you may be wondering if you can use your own router, and what the best one is.
The option of not taking Google's hardware and saving rental fees (as is common with other providers) is unfortunately not an option. You'd only want to use your own router or wireless system if you have specific technical requirements or want bad-ass wireless. We'll come onto all that later.
In this article, we will take a look at what exactly Google Fiber is, and whether or not there are any advantages to using your own router with the Google service.
Wireless Routers We'll Look At:
(clicking the links above will take you to the router on Amazon)
What is Google Fiber?
Google Fiber is an internet service and cable TV provider run by Google. It uses fiber optic cables to bring high-speed internet to the locations it services in the US.
While Google Fiber offers speeds of up to an incredibly impressive 1Gbps, the main downside is that it's currently (Oct '17) only available in a fairly small number of cities throughout the US. So you're probably only reading this if you're one of the lucky ones living in the right place 🙂
Google provides a "Network+" box that plugs into the fiber termination point, and acts as a wireless connection point for all your devices to get to the internet. Oh, and connect you to TV (optional).
Why Use My Own Router?
As we already mentioned, replacing the Network+ box won't get you any refunds from Google. And the Network+ box is perfectly fine for the vast majority of users out there.
However, there are reasons why some of you would consider replacing or complimenting the Network+ box....
The main benefits of doing this are:
1) Upgrade to Wireless AC: The Network+ box is only Wireless N (frustrating on a 1Gbps internet connection!) - so getting over 100Mbps might be a luxury. Those of you who want 802.11ac speeds will need to either add to, or replace the box, with a router/access point.
2) Increase Wireless Coverage: If you have any spots in your home where the wireless signal is poor, an access point can be used to extend your wifi into this area, giving it a new lease of life. This will be done by connecting a router to the Network+ Box via Ethernet and then using the router in Access Point (AP) mode. Most routers will have an option to be used like this.
3) Advanced Routing: If you need to set up advanced routing (RIP or OSPF). Or, for example, granular QoS for certain devices or applications within your home. Some routers use out-the-box highly customizable firmware, but some users prefer to install DD-WRT, Tomato or OpenWRT firmware to have full control when setting up these, and other options.
So yeah, the Network+ box isn't particularly customizable - which the more tech-savvy among you will probably hate!
Can I Use My Own Router With Google Fiber?
As with most ISPs, Google Fiber provides users of its service with all the equipment needed to get connected to the internet. This includes the Network+ Box that acts as a router, doubling up as an access point - providing users with wireless for their home.
But can you replace it?
Consumer Customers - router alongside Network+ box
Google Fiber doesn’t support the option of totally replacing the Network+ box (it can be done, but it's not for the faint hearted - you need the Ubiquiti router we mention further below, then you can follow these steps.)
Although you can’t use your own router instead of the Network+ Box, what you can do is either use a router to compliment the Network+ Box or, alternatively, you can use a second router (or routers) as wireless access points -or a wifi system, like Google Wifi, which we talk about below.
Small Business Customers - Google "supports" replacing Network+ box
Google does however give support for business customers to replace the Network+ box, who would be more likely to require the routing features that the Network+ unit lacks. IT support for the business would also likely want to use their own routers, rather than using the Google box, which is designed to "run itself" with little-to-no configuration.
In fact, if multiple static IPs are being used, you must use your own router - as the Network+ box won't actually work.
Best "Routers" For Google Fiber
1. Google Wifi System - For Upgrading Or Extending WiFI
Since you are already using one Google product, if you are looking for an extra router, why not go with Google Wifi?
Google Wifi is a mesh wifi system, making home wireless setup very easy. When you connect, your devices will seamlessly select the best wifi point for you to connect to at any one time.
This set comes with three Access Points which will cover a home up to 4,500 square feet. They are all Dual-Band, use the Wireless AC standard, and come with an Ethernet port. As well as this, look great
They also look pretty sleek!
How To Connect Google Wifi To The Network+ Box
When it comes to connecting Google Wifi to Google Fiber, all you need to do is:
1) Connect Google Wifi to an Ethernet port on the Network+ box.
2) Disable the wireless on the Network+ Box by:
a: signing into Fiber with your email and password credentials.
b: selecting "Network" from the top-left corner, and choosing your box.
c: change wifi radio to "off" then select "apply".
3) Enable bridge mode on Google Wifi (using the app).
a: go to "Network Settings".
b: Select: Advanced networking > Device mode > your Wifi point > Bridge mode
2. Ubiquiti EdgeMax EdgeRouter Lite ERLite-3
The Ubiquiti EdgeMax EdgeRouter is a gigabit router that can be great for using features such as port-forwarding and Quality of Service. It also supports Linux command line, and routing protocols, which may be overkill for most home users, but may well be of interest to business users.
There is a downside though (for the tech noobies out there, at least.) While connecting Google Wifi to the Network+ Box was a very simple process, the process to get the EdgeRouter connected is more complicated.
Unless you have some experience of setting up networks, it probably isn’t recommended. Here's that guide again that you can use to set up the EdgeRouter with Google Fiber.
Also note that the ERLite-3 does not have wireless capabilities. You'll need to hook up an access point or wifi system to it, should wifi be required.
Google Fiber is a great choice for a fast, gigabit, internet connection. While the Network+ Box is pretty solid for most home users out there, in certain situations (Wireless AC please! Oh, and some QoS!), it can be a good idea to use your own router to compliment Google’s hardware.
Products like Google Wifi are super easy to set up and with a little know-how and hardware, you can end up with a solid home network. Just make sure you are confident about making big changes, particularly if you're replacing the Network+ unit.
Do you have Google Fiber? What do you think of it? Have you replaced or added to the Network+ box? Tell us about it below...?