Friday, January 25, 2013

Is Google experimenting with building a wireless network?

Is Google experimenting with building a wireless network?

Google is not afraid to be disruptive. They’ve proved it time and time again with services like Google Voice, software like Android and most recently, with Google Fiber; Google’s experiment in being an Internet and television provider that threatens to turn an entire industry on its head. So what’s next? How about a wireless network?

Something is going on in Mountain View. According to a handful of FCC filings, Google is looking to test 50 base stations using 200 devices on what appears to be a wireless LTE network operating on 2524-2546 and 2567-2625 MHz bands[1]. Some sort of proprietary network for Google employees isn’t out of the question, and Google experimenting with wireless technology is nothing new, but a few too many things have perfectly aligned surrounding Google’s mystery network that could point to it being more than what it appears.

The bands being used for the network are those of Clearwire’s. That wouldn’t be a big deal, if it weren’t for Dish’s attempts at purchasing Clearwire, and recent rumors that Google may be forming a partnership with Dish to start a wireless network. But that’s not all. Even if you ignored the fact that Google is using wireless spectrum that has to be licensed instead of spectrum that doesn’t, and that it’s spectrum that has been tied to recent rumors that Google is looking to start it’s own wireless network, they want to keep the entire thing as quiet as possible.

When requesting to have certain parts of the filings redacted, Google’s lawyers offered up a reasonable explanation: “The information for which confidential treatment is sought concerns the highly competitive consumer electronics market.” That doesn’t sound like a test or another experiment, it sounds like Google is working on something big. This could shape up to be one crazy year.

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//PART 2