Google Home MaxGoogle

  • Google casting devices like the Chromecast and Google
    Home smart speakers have been causing problems with home WiFi
    networks since October 2017.
  • A malfunction in Google’s devices could cause WiFi
    routers to become overwhelmed and temporarily shut
    down.
  • TP-Link has confirmed the issue, and WiFi routers from
    other companies are also reportedly affected. 

Several of Google’s hardware devices, including the popular
Chromecast video streaming dongle and the new top-of-the-line
smart speaker
, appear to suffer from a glitch that can
temporarily freeze a consumer’s home wireless network. 

Numerous owners of the devices have recently reported
experiencing WiFi network issues, and several
tech blogs
say Google is to blame. 

On Tuesday, a maker of networking products by the name of
TP-Link wrote
in a blog post
that its routers have been affected by Google
devices that use the Google “casting” feature.  The company
said a glitch caused a WiFi network to become temporarily
unresponsive or disconnect from other devices that were connected
to the network.

WiFi routers from other companies, including Linksys, Asus,
Netgear, and Synology are also reportedly affected.

It’s not clear whether the problem stems from a flaw in Google’s
hardware, or whether it’s the result of a broader software issue.

But the news represents the latest blow to Google’s efforts to
enter the hardware market, where it has limited experience and
competes against longtime gadget makers like Samsung and Apple.
In October,
Google was forced to disable a button
on the Home Mini smart
speaker before the product even shipped due to a privacy problem.

Google “casting” devices come out of sleep mode and cause
disruptions

According to TP-Link’s blog post on the WiFi issue, the problems
began in October 2017.

Chromecast 2015Google

The company explained that under normal circumstances, Google’s
casting devices are designed to wake from a sleep state every so
often to communicate with a WiFi router with small bits of data,
called “packets.”

The problem is that some of Google’s devices were malfunctioning
and wouldn’t rise out sleep mode for longer periods of time. When
they did awake from their slumber, they flooded a WiFi router
with huge amounts of data packets at a “very high speed,” which
would overwhelm certain routers and cause the disruptions. The
amount of data that would be sent to a WiFi router depended on
how long a Google casting device was in sleep mode. 

TP-Link has issued firmware updates for its affected WiFi
routers, and a statement
from Google to Engadget
said “We’re aware that a small
number of users are having issues and our team is working quickly
to share a solution.”

One of the ways to prevent WiFi network issues is to
disable the casting feature in your Google casting devices. Of
course, if the product is a Chromecast, that means you’re
effectively making the product useless. 

Business Insider has contacted Google for comment, as well
as a clarification of which devices can become affected, but the
company hasn’t yet replied.

There are several devices that support Google’s casting
feature, like smartphones, tablets, media streamers, and smart
TVs. It’s unclear if its specifically Google’s own casting
hardware causing the disruptions, or if it’s Google’s casting
software feature found in several devices, too. 

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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