Google files with FCC to build experimental wireless network

Google has submitted a license request with the Federal Communications Commission to set up an "experimental radio service" in the vicinity of its corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Although the application is short on detail—under equipment to be installed, for example, everything is listed as confidential—and Google is silent about its plans, the network will use mobile broadband bands, which leads some mobile industry watchers to speculate that the Search Goliath may be toying with the idea of offering its own mobile data service.

"We don’t know yet exactly what Google is testing here," Washington, D.C. consulting engineer Steven J. Crowley wrote in a blog Wednesday. "It might be devices it created. I suspect, though, that this is a test of a network architecture or service, using existing equipment."

Mystery spectrum

Google will conduct its experiment in the 2524-2546 MHz radio spectrum range. There's more bandwidth in that range than other carriers have to deploy LTE services, Crowley told InformationWeek.

google wifi

He also noted that a code on the application form indicates the test involves LTE.

The catch, though, is that nearly no consumer devices exist today that can use that spectrum, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, because those frequencies work well in densely populated areas, mobile carriers in places like China, Brazil, and Japan have begun building wireless networks using them. That means devices using the frequencies are on the horizon.

Dabbling in IP services

In recent times, Google has shown an interest in providing carrier services. Earlier this month, it started offering free public Wi-Fi access to a neighborhood in New York City. It also provides free Wi-Fi service to Mountain View.

It's also been rumored that Google is shopping for a partner to build out a wireless service to compete with established carriers like Sprint and AT&T.

google fiber

In addition, last summer the Search Giant rolled out a fiber optic network offering chrome-burning Internet service in Kansas City at speeds of 1Gb per second.

The Google experimental network could be part of the company's plans for its Kansas City venture, Walter Piecyk, a wireless-industry analyst with BTIG told The Wall Street Journal. People in the Fountain City who sign up for Google's fiber service, for example, would be able to obtain free wireless service anywhere in the burg once devices are available that work with the new frequencies.

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