As a drone pilot, I spend a lot of time thinking about the gear I need out on the road — drones, bags, spare batteries, portable chargers and the like. But the reality is, drone pilots spend a huge chunk of time working at home — transferring files uploading their videos to YouTube, updating their drone’s firmware and more. That all means you’re likely seeking to have the best Internet — and my switch to Google Fiber Webpass has convinced me that this is the way.
Google Fiber Webpass uses millimeter wave technology to create a point-to-point wireless network. Given that it’s a mesh network, you’re looking at further reach that what you’d get with a single, traditional router. In short, that means you’ll get among the fastest, most reliable internet out there. And that’s not the only reason why it’s great.
Here are 5 reasons why Google Fiber Webpass is the best internet service for drone pilots, bloggers, entrepreneurs and anyone who generally uses the Internet, really:
1. It’s fast and reliable
Top criteria in choosing Internet over the longterm should generally be performance, and Google Fiber Webpass is fast and reliable.
Speed ranges from 100 Mbps to 1 gig (1000 Mbps). Exact speeds vary based on situations including your building infrastructure, hardware, type of website you visit, peak usage times or interference if you’re using a WiFi router.
Max speeds for Gogle Webpass 1 Gig are:
- Up to 1,000 Mbps download
- Up to 1,000 Mbps upload
If you’re a drone racer, you know all about latency, which is the time it takes transmit information over a network. In drone racing, it means how quickly the video feed returns back to your FPV goggles so there’s no lag in your decision-making around the track.
Typically latency of Google Fiber Wepbass is 16 milliseconds, which is imperceptible in everyday usage. That includes using an FPV simulator at home.
Related read: This DRL simulator costs less than $10
With internet, every once in a while, data never meets its intended destination, which is referred to as packet loss. That rarely happens with Google Fiber Webpass. Typical packet loss is 0.01%.
In the event that your Internet does conk out (though I’ve never experienced it), my installer advised me that a simple unplug and replug of the router’s power cord should fix it. You can also contact Google Fiber customer support if your issues are ongoing.
2. Installation is fast and easy
While you can self-install Google Fiber Webpass, I’d rather hand it off to the professionals. Why? Because I have other things to do with my life – and even better, Google Fiber’s professional installation is completely free.
They show up with the equipment you’ll need (like a Fiber Jack), so there’s minimal prep you need to do in advance, aside from basics like clearing away space where you want the router to sit and removing any wall items that might cover up the spot where fiber cables enter your home.
Google says it can take up to one or two hours to install, but mine only took about 30 minutes.
How does Google Fiber Webpass installation work?
If you live in a home that wasn’t previously connected to the Google Fiber network, Google’s installer will arrive one to four days before the installation date and simply put a small box on the side of your home, called a Network Interface Unit (NIU) to ready it for the in-home installation of your Google Fiber Jack.
On your official appointment date — which is easy to schedule (or reschedule) online, Google will call you 15 minutes ahead of time that they’re on their way. Once there, they set up everything for you.
3. No need to buy any extra routers or gear
You’re already researching the best drones, the best cameras, and heck, right now you might be researching the best Internet. Researching routers (and buying them) is not something you need on your to-do list.
While Google Fiber 1 Gig plans certainly allow you to use your own router, all Google Fiber service plans include equipment (Fiber Jack, router, Wi-Fi) at no extra cost. Yep, a mesh router, which can typically cost about $100 on its own, is free to use for the duration of your Fiber service (it’s basically on loan).
On that note, there are no setup or initiation fees. Oh, and data is unlimited — no matter how much Internet you’re using.
If you do opt to use your own router, it’ll need to meet the following specs:
- Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) or Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
- Supports gigabit wired speeds
- 1000Base-T or faster ethernet port for internet connection
- 1000Base-T or faster ethernet port for local network
- Minimum WPA2 Security
4. Google Fiber Webpass discounts are easy to find
For starters, you can get your first month free using a Google Fiber promo code. If you opt for month-to-month service, then the first bill you receive will show simply $0 owed. Since there’s no contract or commitment to stick around, you could leave after that.
If you opt for a yearly plan, you’ll get the value of one month off your annual fee, which is shown on your first bill.
Speaking of that yearly plan, you can also typically get a discount (typically close to $100 per year) when you pay for a year upfront. Note: this plan is available at most, but not all, cities, and exact pricing varies by city.
Typically, it’s $70 monthly, or $62.50 per month if you commit to paying for a year upfront.
And sometimes, if your building’s wiring can’t support our gig speeds, Google offers even lower-priced plans. What’s more, Google also offers free connectivity to select public and affordable housing properties in the cities it serves.
5. Coverage is wide
As a Southern California girl now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I need as much sun as I can get, so I’m frequently working on my outdoor patio. Luckily, Google Fiber Webpass coverage is wide. With the 1 Gig plan, Google Wifi’s access points create one seamless Wi-Fi network for your whole home. And, you can setup up to two Google Wifi points, which typically cover up to 3,000 square feet (Each point covers up to 1,500 square feet, and no, my home is definitely not that big).
Each point can handle up to 100 connected devices. If you have more than that, I’m impressed.
If you do need additional Wifi points, they can be purchased for $100 each.
And if you do need your Wi-Fi to cover more area (or perhaps a strong wall is getting in the way of the signal), you can use an extender for more reach. If you have 2 Gig, you’ll get a Wi-Fi 6-enabled Google Fiber Multi-Gig Router and one Google Fiber Mesh Extender. Additional Google Fiber Mesh Extenders can be purchased for $180 each.
What to know about Google Fiber Webpass
Google Fiber Webpass is a High-Speed Internet provider serving about a dozen metro areas nationwide in the U.S. It’s most famous for its lack of data caps, its lack of additional fees and its lack of contracts — all good things.
One bummer: while Google Fiber Webpass certainly serves tens of thousands of residential and business customers, it’s not available everywhere. While Webpass service is certainly growing, for now it’s only in major cities (many of which are in the San Francisco Bay Area) including:
- Berkeley, California,
- Oakland, California,
- San Diego, California
- San Francisco, California
- Denver, Colorado
- Miami, Florida
- Chicago, Illinois
- Des Moines, Iowa
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Austin, Texas
- Seattle, Washington
This is not a comprehensive list. See if it’s available in your city here. Plus, Google says it has expansion plans, including Mesa, Arizona, plus unspecified cities in Nevada, Nebraska and Idaho.
How does my drone connect to Internet?
To be clear, this article pertains to life at home. If you’re flying drones out in the world — Google Fiber Webpass won’t serve you.
Most drones do use WiFi to communicate with our phone, or other accessories. But of those that do, they typically have their own WiFi network. You can fly drones out in a field in the middle of nowhere with no tech gear in site aside from your drone — and that’s okay.
For drones that sync with a smartphone, you’ll typically have to connect your smartphone to the drone’s Wi-Fi network. You can typically find the connection info in your drone’s user manual or printed somewhere on your drone or its remote controller. For example, the Skydio 2 Wi-Fi information is permanently printed inside the battery tray of your drone.
Some drones use other types of transmission systems. For example, DJI is famous for its OcuSync transmission system. Where Wi-Fi works well for short ranges (up to about 100 meters), OcuSync provides an even better connection.
These days, DJI Pilots might be flying with the DJI RC Pro, which features the latest in OcuSync tech, abbreviated to O3+. This latest tech can maintain a 1080p/60fps live feed from up to 15 km away with a latency as low as 120 ms. Plus, a 2T4R high-gain antenna system enhances signal coverage and keeps transmission stable and smooth.
Where your drone will use at-home Wi-Fi like Google Fiber Webpass is when it’s time for a firmware update.
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