Feature Article

January 24, 2013

Mountain View Mystery Network from Google

The only information that is available about Google’s experimental wireless network comes from an application that Google submitted to the FCC. Google is asking for an experimental license to create what is listed in the application as an experimental radio service. The application asked for approval to run a network that would have a two-mile radius covering its headquarters. The network would use frequencies that are compatible with any existing consumer electronic devices on the market today.

Google wants to be able to build the experimental network on wireless 2.5GHz frequencies. The network would embrace two 2MHz wide slots. The frequency slots would be between 2524-2546 and 2567-2625MHz. The Google campus will have both directional and omni-directional antennas. According to the application, there will be rooftop base stations throughout the campus covering an area of slightly more than half a mile. The indoor base stations will have a range of up to 650 feet. All-in-all, this is designed to handle about 200 devices from 50 base stations.

There have been some whispers of a possible partnership with Dish, who has intentions of building a cellular LTE network. The frequencies that Google intends to use are currently in the territory of Clearwire, a wireless broadband provider. This is a company that Dish is trying to purchase. Due to the fact that the frequencies are part of a licensed spectrum, they are more reliable than Wi-Fi. The bands fall within the 3G expansion band. It is generally referred to as 2.6GHz. These are being auctioned off around the world for 4G and LTE deployments since LTE can be squeezed into 2GHz. This seems to add some credence to a possible connection with Dish.

These frequencies are being used now in areas such as China, Brazil and Japan. It could be that Google sees this as a growth area. According to Walter Piecyk, a wireless research analyst at BTIG, devices that run on these frequencies are not widely available here.  Compatible devices would eventually be available in the future. Google could be testing while at the same time planning ahead.

While most of Google’s application is confidential, it does say that the first stage deployment of the experimental network will occur inside a specific building on Google’s campus. That building houses the Google Fiber team. There is no information available as to what kit or protocol Google will be using. It will be interesting to see what else Google has in mind for their experimental wireless network.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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