Do I Need a Modem For Google Nest WiFi?

It can be confusing for a lot of people who are new to the world of smart homes, especially when the coined terms are related to modems and internet connectivity.

In this article, I describe in detail all you need to know when it comes to connecting modems to Google Nest WiFi. I'll also suggest some great options to consider.

A modem is one of the most important devices used to bring the internet from the ISP to the router.

Since Google Nest WiFi is just a router, you need a modem that has internet access to relay it to Google Nest WiFi router. A basic modem is usually provided on a rental basis along with a basic router from your ISP, but it is recommended to get a better compatible modem for maximum usage of your internet plans.

What is a Modem?

What is a Modem?

A modem is a device that is supplied by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that is responsible for bringing in the internet connection from the ISP to your home.

The quality and specifications of the modem determine the speed and ping you get for your internet based on the plans you have chosen.

A modem usually grabs and brings in access to the internet from your ISP by using a coaxial cable, optical fiber, or a telephone line.

Google Nest WiFi is a router and not a modem. So you need an external modem that has internet access from your ISP in order to get the Nest WiFi router functioning.

Differences Between a Modem and a Router

People often get confused between a modem and a router, often using them synonymously.

In reality, they are significant differences between both.

A router is also similar to a modem, but it is the next step in that it is used to bring the internet connection from your modem to other connected devices.

To further explain the differences between the two, simply refer to the chart below:

Connects your ISP to your homeConnects your home to your devices
Incorporates a WAN networkIncorporates a Local Area Network (LAN) network
Public IP addressLocal IP address
Single connection, from ISP to homeMultiple connections, from home to devices

Modem vs Router

ISPs are to blame for the name confusion as they natively provide the modem and router, with the router being the main point of access for the user.

WiFi Modem

To make things more complex, some devices do come with both the router and modem inbuilt.

These are appropriately named WiFi modems.

This is a relatively new implementation that saves a lot of costs for ISPs in the long run.

But this also means, if either the modem or router gets outdated, you might have to change the whole unit. Also, the gateway for both can get a lot more complicated.

Connect Your Modem to Your Google Nest WiFi Points

Connect Your Modem to Your Google Nest WiFi Points

Connecting the modem to your Google Nest WiFi router is simple as connecting any router.

Simply connect your modem with your Google Nest WiFi router directly with an ethernet cable. Alternatively, you can even connect the Google Nest WiFi to an existing router

Set Up The Google Nest System

Before setting up your Google Nest WiFi System, make sure you have the following:

  • The Google Nest WiFi Router.
Set Up The Google Nest System
  • Your Nest WiFi Points. It is possible to pair up to 32 Nest points for every Nest router.
Set Up The Google Nest System
  • A tablet or smartphone running iOS 13.0+ or Android 6.0+ respectively.
  • Modem with working internet connection.

To set up the Google Nest router, simply follow the following steps:

  • Connect the modem to your Google Nest Router.
Hardware Connections
  • From the respective stores of Google or Apple depending on your preferred operating system, download and install the Google Home app.
  • Click on the plus (+) icon after opening the app.
  • Tap on Create a new home to create a Home.
  • Tap on the Add(+) option again, and select the New device option after choosing the Set up device option.
  • Your Nest router should show up on your Google Home screen if it is connected properly and switched on.
  • Using the QR code scanner that pops up on the resultant screen, scan the QR code on the underside of your Google Nest Router.
  • Name the room and set up your password to begin using your Google Nest WiFi router.

Doing this will successfully establish your network with the Google servers via the Google Home app. Now to connect the Nest WiFi points, simply follow the following steps:

  • From the Google Home app, Click on the Add(+) option, and choose the New device option inside the Set up device option.
  • If your Nest WiFi node/point is connected properly and switched on, it should show up on your Google Home screen.
  • A QR scanner would pop up. This is used to scan the QR code on the underside of your Google Nest WiFi point.
  • Follow through with the connection process by tapping Yes when prompted.

This process will connect the Nest WiFi point with your Nest WiFi router. Based on your needs and requirements, you can also connect multiple Nest WiFi points.

Instead of one router and multiple points, it is also possible to connect multiple routers. Each router can extend the WiFi range up to 2200 sq feet and each point can extend the WiFi range up to 1600 sq feet.

Benefits of Getting Your Own Modem

A quality modem is a key requirement to a great experience with your internet when it comes to your speeds and ping.

The modem provided by your ISP would be great depending on your internet plans of course. They would know what is best based on your requirements.

But depending on the ISP, you are paying rent for your modem and router on a timely basis and this usually goes unnoticed by a lot of folks.

They have the right to charge whatever they want and how much ever they want, and they can hike the prices when needed too.

But a modem is a commonly used device, there are great third-party options available that you can get and ask your ISP to take back what's theirs.

This will significantly reduce your recurring internet costs and will prove to be a great boost to your internet speeds and ping too.

Factors To Consider When Buying A Modem for Google Nest WiFi

Factors To Consider When Buying A Modem for Google Nest WiFi

Just like any other device, there are important factors to look for when you are in the market to buy a good modem for your Google Nest WiFi router:

ISP Compatibility

Not all modems are designed to be compatible with how your ISP provides internet to your home.

There are different methods by which an ISP relays the internet to your home: a coaxial cable, optical fiber, or Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) / telephone line.

All three of them have different port configurations and hence work very differently.

You can check the modem provided by your ISP to check how the internet is relayed and make your buying decision based on that.

In case of doubts, it's always best to call your ISP and ask them. If you want a very fast network, they usually provide them via optical fiber connections.

The DOCSIS Standard

Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) is an international telecommunications standard used to standardize the cable used based on the rate of speed.

It effectively standardizes the capacity of upstream and downstream channels, along with a slew of features over each generation for capabilities of information transfer.

This is also a very important factor when it comes to getting as close of a speed to the plan you have taken up with your ISP.

There are six standards of DOCSIS which I have made a chart for to further describe its feature set and speeds:

DOCSIS StandardUpstream CapacityDownstream CapacityFeatures
DOCSIS 1.010Mbps40Mbps1st Gen Cable broadband technology
DOCSIS 1.1 10 Mbps40 MbpsVoice Over IP (VOIP) services
DOCSIS 2.0 30 Mbps40MbpsHigher upstream speeds
DOCSIS 3.0 100 Mbps1 GbpsOverall higher speeds
DOCSIS 3.1 2 Gbps10 GbpsBetter efficiency progression
DOCSIS 3.1 Full Duplex 10 Gbps10 GbpsSymmetrical streaming

DOCSIS Standards

Channel Bonding

This is a feature where the modem combines multiple channels to serve one purpose, either download or upload information.

This results in much faster theoretical speeds and overall more bandwidth for your connected devices.

Here is a chart that I made that represents how much of a gain one would get theoretically based on the different standards of channel bonding they opt for:

ChannelsTheoretical Speed Limit
4x4 standard 172 Mbps
8x8 standard 343 Mbps
16x4 standard 686 Mbps
24x8 standard 1 Gbps
32x8 standard 1.4 Gbps
32x8 standard with DOCSIS 3.1 10 Gbps

Channel Bonding standards

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Getting a modem that works with these standards will get you as uninterrupted internet service you can possibly get out of your ISP.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Modems are a very important aspect of any local and private internet connection.

ISPs know this and charge a recurring premium for their mostly outdated modems, mostly without you even knowing you are paying for the thing!

This is something everyone should be aware of, especially those planning to switch to fantastic mesh network high-speed setups such as Google Nest WiFi.

Being amongst the most popular modems, I personally use the NETGEAR CM700 for my modem needs, and it has been a fantastic experience for me so far.

I hope this article has quenched your knowledge gaps on the topic of modems and Google Nest WiFi.

Have a good day!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can Google Nest WiFi connect to a WiFi modem?

The WiFi modem has its own router inbuilt, so in order to add the Google Nest WiFi router, the WiFi modem needs to be in bridging mode.

This also means the internet will solely be relayed to the Google Nest WiFi router and hence will work, albeit with some minor connection issues at times.

What is the network coverage distance with Google Nest WiFi points attached?

The range for a single router is rated to be up to 2200 square feet. Adding one point to the router will increase the range by up to 3800 square feet.

Does Google Nest WiFi Points have Ethernet Backhaul?

The Google Nest WiFi points lack an ethernet port, so it is not possible to use Ethernet Backhaul with the points. But it is possible on the Google Nest WIFi router.

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About Doug Stevenson

Hey! I'm Doug, My passion for tech started by fixing phones and computers for my friends and family.

I started Blinqblinq to give reliable tech advice to anyone who needs it, for free! If you have questions on anything tech-related, feel free to contact me.

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Doug Stevenson

Hey! I'm Doug, My passion for tech started by fixing phones and computers for my friends and family.

I started Blinqblinq to give reliable tech advice to anyone who needs it, for free! If you have questions on anything tech-related, feel free to contact me.

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