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Google, HKT launch advanced home Wi-fi system in Hong Kong

Wide availability of Google Wifi technology expected to help drive adoption of more ‘smart home technologies’ across the city

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 6:59pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 7:36pm

Internet powerhouse Google has teamed up with HKT, Hong Kong’s largest telecommunications network operator, to introduce its advanced mesh Wi-fi technology to the city’s residential sector, marking the initial launch of the advanced home router system in Asia.

HKT and Singapore-based StarHub were the only two telecommunications service providers in Asia to exclusively launch "Google Wifi" in their respective markets on Wednesday.

The Google Wifi system, which was first launched in the United States in December last year, is touted to eliminate so-called dead zones for Wi-fi in homes with its high-powered, seamless network coverage.

“Combined with our [optical] fibre-rich broadband network and expertise in home networking consultancy, Google Wifi can bring to customers ... blanket coverage of the entire home regardless of its size and configuration,” said Ringo Ng, the managing director for consumer business at HKT.

Walls and distance typically make it difficult for a single router to send a strong signal to every room in a flat, which can result in slow Wi-fi connection and dead zones.

HKT unveils Hong Kong’s fastest 4G service as interim earnings rise

With Google Wifi, users can place multiple Wi-fi “points” in different rooms to establish a strong signal in every corner of a flat to enable simultaneous streaming, downloading and gaming in multiple rooms.

The small, round and white Google router, which supports dual-band Wi-fi in the 2.4-gigahertz and 5GHz bands, is also designed to blend in with the furniture in a flat.

“There have been some wireless access points which work in a way very similar to Google mesh Wifi for some time, but this marks the first time that a brand as ubiquitous as Google has marketed this technology to the mainstream in Asia,” said Paul Haswell, a partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons in Hong Kong.

“Hopefully, this development would help to grow the market for smart home solutions in Hong Kong. We will have to see whether other mainstream smart home technologies, such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo smart speaker systems, become more readily available in the city.”

HKT unleashes more ultra-fast fibre-optic connections for Hong Kong households

The Google Wifi launch followed HKT’s roll-out earlier this month of more ultra-fast broadband capacity to households across the city through a new Netvigator service that delivers up to four multi-use, 1-gigabit per second fibre-optic connections to each home.

Subscribers to that service get Google Wifi for free when they sign up for a 30-month subscription plan.

HKT reported last month that its fixed-line data services revenue, comprising its broadband network and local data business segments, recorded a 2 per cent year on year increase to HK$3.5 billion in the six months ended June 30.

Its total number of broadband access lines reached 1.6 million in the first half, which included 652,000 customers with direct fibre-to-the-home service.