Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) filed applications with the FCC to conduct a variety of tests across a number of spectrum bands, including the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz millimeter wave bands. It's unclear exactly what Google is seeking to discover through the testing--the company said only that it will "enable testing of radios in a way that is likely to contribute to the development, extension, expansion, or utilization of the radio art."
In a detailed article on the tests, analysts told Reuters that Google may be using the millimeter wave bands to test the transmission of large amounts of data over short distances using a line-of-sight connection. A wide range of other companies, including Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Nokia and Samsung, have pointed to millimeter wave technology as potentially significant in the development of future, super-fast wireless connections, including the still-undefined 5G standard. For its part, Google could be interested in using millimeter wave transmissions to connect more houses to its Google Fiber service without having to lay physical cables to those houses.
Craig Barratt, the head of the Google Access division at the search engine giant, signed the heavily redacted FCC application requesting approval for the tests. Google declined to comment on the filing, according to Reuters. Craig Barratt was formerly the CEO of Wi-Fi chip pioneer Atheros Communications, which is now part of Qualcomm. At Google Access, he oversees all of Google's Internet connection efforts, including Google Fiber.
Aside from the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz millimeter wave bands, Google is also requesting permission to test transmissions in the 3.5 GHz band, the 5.8 GHz band and the 24 GHz band. According to noted wireless engineer Steven Crowley, most of the tests are designed to probe signal propagation rather than actual data transmissions. Also, Google's testing in the 3.5 GHz band isn't a surprise based on the company's longtime support for the FCC's proposed rules allowing commercial operation in that band.
To be clear, the tests are just one of many efforts by Google to improve users' Internet connections. Google's work in the telecom industry stretches from its desire to be a TV White Space database administrator to its Google Fiber wired Internet buildout to its Project Loon, which seeks to provide relatively slow-speed Internet connections using balloons. Google is even participating in a consortium that is building submarine cable to connect the United States with locations in Latin America.
Moreover, Google isn't the only company looking offer new, innovative wireless services. For example, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) is testing a fixed wireless broadband service over 2.5 GHz spectrum using TD-LTE technology with both Sprint (NYSE: S) and nTelos Wireless.
Google unveils Android 5.0 Lollipop, Nexus 6 phablet and Nexus 9 tablet
Google-led consortium to build new Latin American submarine cable
Ofcom says Google white space trial maintains UK lead
Google Fiber chief: program rights are 'biggest impediment' to deployment