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Google asks FCC for license to test wireless network

updated 12:11 pm EST, Thu January 24, 2013

Experimental radio service to work around Google headquarters

Google is intending to build an experimental wireless service around its Mountain View headquarters, for currently unknown purposes. The search company has sent a request to the FCC for a license to allow the radio service to operate, and plans to test up to 50 base stations and 200 user devices during the licensed period.

The service will cover a two-mile radius of the headquarters, according to documents found by the Wall Street Journal, with the network thought to be a test bed for the company's research into Internet access through mobile devices. What would be tested is unknown, but it would not be consumer-grade equipment currently available to buy, as the license covers the frequency range of 2524 to 2625MHz. The frequencies are said to be suitable for areas with high population densities, such as inner-city areas, with Walter Piecyk of research firm BTIG claiming carriers in Brazil, Japan, and China are constructing networks using the range, and so future devices will be compatible with it.

The frequency range being used is currently used by Clearwire, which like Google, declined to comment on the trial itself, though it is believed that if a company tests on Clearwire's spectrum, there has to be some sort of co-operation between the two parties.

If Google is working on a project for wireless Internet access, it could be considered a natural progression from its Google Fiber projects, where high-speed Gigabit Internet access is provided to households at a reasonable cost. A future wireless service could disrupt carriers in the same way as Google Fiber is for broadband providers, and depending on future devices, could work out to be a cheaper method of offering a wider area high-speed Internet access due to the significantly reduced construction costs.

This is not the first time that Google has looked into wireless networks. Claims that it was conducting similar tests were made in 2007, just before the company took part in the FCC's 700MHz wireless auction and failed to win any of its bids. Google also owns a patent relating to wireless data network management through ongoing real-time auctions, with higher bids offering faster connections to users.

by MacNN Staff



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