Google is asking the FCC for special temporary authority to conduct tests at racetrack facilities in Texas using the 3400-3600 MHz spectrum, otherwise known as 3.5 GHz.
According to the application, Google wants to test transmission of broadband data from race cars to transportable/fixed base stations located at racetrack facilities in connection with automobile racing events.
There aren't a lot of other details about the tests, which would take place in Plano and Fort Worth. Google said the STA is necessary to “expeditiously test radios in a way that is likely to contribute to the development, extension, expansion or utilization of the radio art,” which is another way of saying it doesn’t care to share exactly what it’s doing. And Google also submitted a request for confidential treatment of the application, so there’s that.
If approved, the dates of operation would run from October 10 to April 1 of next year.
Although FCC approval is not guaranteed, Google has a solid track record for getting approval for these kinds of things. Earlier this year, Google was granted permission (PDF) to conduct tests with race cars at various Nascar events around the country.
On September 27, the company received the OK (PDF) to transmit broadband data from race cars at locations in Alabama, Virginia and Arizona during October and November of this year. On that application as well, the manufacturer of the gear is marked as “confidential.”
Racetracks are considered a good use case for LTE at 3.5 GHz in the U.S., where a three-tiered shared system is being implemented for the band. Earlier this year, Google parent Alphabet was involved in a demo at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies.
Alphabet delivered on the Spectrum Access System (SAS), Nokia brought the radios and Qualcomm supplied the LTE modem for in-car connectivity. The idea was to give spectators a chance to experience what it’s like to be in the race car that’s traveling around 185 mph.
Google has been actively developing its SAS business for the CBRS 3.5 GHz band. Plans call for three tiers of spectrum usage for CBRS: one for incumbents, a Priority Access tier for licensed uses and a General Authorized Access tier for unlicensed uses. The three tiers are to be coordinated through dynamic SAS administrators, and Google is one of a handful of companies hoping to sell SAS services to companies looking to use 3.5 GHz spectrum.