Google has requested Special Temporary Authority (STA) from the Federal Communications Commission to conduct tests for 180 days with a mystery device operating at frequencies between 2.4 and 5.8 GHz.
Other than that, little is known about the device due to the heavily redacted nature of the application that Google filed with the FCC last week. But Business Insider reported that it might be a prototype device related to Google’s virtual reality efforts. One of the names listed as a contact on the filings is Mike Jazayeri, who, according to a LinkedIn profile, is a director of product management on the leadership team for Google's virtual reality group. He reportedly was involved in the Google Cardboard VR viewer.
Google said in the documents filed with the FCC that the services and technologies that are the subject of the STA have not been fully developed but are expected to lead to material developments in markets subject to competition from multiple U.S. and non-U.S. third parties. If approved, the STA would start Nov. 15, 2016, and end May 14, 2017.
The FCC did have one question before the application can move forward: “Does the one device truly transmit across the entire 2.4-5.8 GHz band? If not, this band should be broken up into sub-bands in which the device actually transmits.”
Google's redactions in the official filings (PDF) with the FCC make it difficult to find further clues. Here’s one excerpt: “The Device consists of a [REDACTED]. To enable [REDACTED], the Device also has a [REDACTED]. Consistent with [REDACTED], the [REDACTED] in the Device will enable [REDACTED], as needed.”
Business Insider noted that Google recently began accepting pre-orders for its $79 Daydream VR headset, which relies on a user's smartphone that gets inserted into the headset to create a VR experience. Unlike Daydream, the mystery device would appear to have built-in radios, and it’s possible the device could be Google’s first all-in-one VR headset that doesn’t require a smartphone, along the lines of Facebook’s Oculus Rift headset.
VR is a hot area for U.S. operators eyeing 5G applications and use cases. Some analysts argued that VR needs 5G in order to be successful. The types of speeds and latencies that 5G is designed to offer could make VR experiences much more immersive and attractive to consumers.