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Chromecast, Google Home Accused Of Messing With Wi-Fi.

Having trouble with your Wi-Fi network at home? It could be the fault of Google Chromecast or the Google Home smart speaker. (https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/googlehome/MmnsVnSxdQc/qBJF2KJ1AQAJ) Users and (http://www.tp-link.com/us/faq-2050.html) experts alike have indicated the devices are causing trouble for wireless routers.

A number of complaints have started to crop up on product pages and online forums in recent months suggesting that the introduction of internet-connected Google products into the home have caused disruptions including the internet connection dropping out completely.

The first round of complaints focused on the Google Home Max-the company's high-end speaker that has its Google Assistant built in-and how it interacted with routers from TP-Link, the world's top provider of wireless networking devices.

TP-Link quickly (http://www.tp-link.com/us/faq-2050.html) identified the issue , which stemmed from how the Google device would MDNS packets, which are used to identify individual internet-connected devices on the same network. Instead of sending the packets in a 20-second interval, as is the standard procedure, Google's Home Max speaker would spam thousands of the packets at a time, overloading the router and causing the connection to drop.

An engineer from TP-Link (http://www.tp-link.com/us/faq-2050.html) explained the issue extends throughout the Google Home and Chromecast line and typically occurs when one of the devices wakes up from a "sleep" state.  According to the engineer, "the longer your device is in "sleep", the larger this packet burst will be." In some cases the burst could "exceed more than 100,000 packets."

In response to the issue, TP-Link (http://www.tp-link.com/us/faq-2050.html) released beta firmware that can be applied to its routers. The firmware-an update for the hardwired software that tells the hardware of a device how to function-should help mitigate the blast of MDNS packets sent by the Google devices.

Unfortunately, it seems as though TP-Link routers are not the only ones affected by the issue. Users online have (https://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/7qb3k3/having_wifi_issues_lately_router_problems_linked/) complained about similar issues affecting routers from Asus, Linksys, Netgear and Synology, among others. Thus far, those companies have not issued a patch to address the problem.

Of course, the issue won't truly be solved until Google makes an effort to fix how its devices handle sending MDNS packets when waking from sleep mode. A spokesperson for Google told International Business Times, "We're aware that a small number of users are having issues and our team is working quickly to share a solution."

This is not the first time Google has wreaked havoc on home Wi-Fi networks. The company's short-lived set-top box Nexus Player (http://www.androidpolice.com/2017/09/12/mystery-nexus-players-android-8-0-oreo-uploading-hundreds-gigabytes-data/) suffered from a similar issue in which it would spam a local network with MDNS packets and cause connectivity issues for the network.

For users who aren't interested in waiting for Google to address the problem, there are a couple solutions that could stabilize the Wi-Fi network in the meantime.

First, users are advised to check for any firmware updates from the router manufacturer. If available, follow the steps provided by the manufacturer to install the update. Even if it doesn't fully fix the issue, it's best to keep the router up to date and patched regardless.

It may also be worth trying to reboot the router in order to clear the memory after it has suffered from a MDNS packet blast at the hands of a Google device. Finally, simply unplug the Google device until a fix has been issued.
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Jan 16, 2018
Words:603
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