According to a new report by Wall Street Journal, Google is trying to create its own experimental wireless network in its Mountain View headquarters using frequencies currently controlled by Clearwire. While it seems rather insignificant at first glance, the reality is that this may be the opening move in a bid for Google to become a wireless carrier.
In a recent filing with the FCC, Google asked for a license to create an "experimental radio service" spanning a two-mile radius around its headquarters. The frequencies themselves indicate that this is far more than a standard WiFi network, as does the fact that they are licensed (WiFi frequencies are unlicensed, available for use by anyone). The story gets even more interesting when you take into account that Clearwire itself is being targeted for acquisition by the Dish Network, with whom Google was in talks last year to build its own wireless service (incidentally, Google itself owned a stake in Clearwire, which it sold last year).
In any event, Google evidently did not go to the trouble of filing an application with the FCC with the endgame of merely testing a new wireless network solely in Mountain View, CA. Wireless engineer Steven Crowley, a respected industry expert quoted by the Wall Street Journal, also analyzed the FCC application and concluded that the network would be extremely dense, meaning that it "could have very high capacity for carrying data."
Crowley, who also pointed out that the frequencies to be used (2524-2546 and 2567-2625 MHz) are currently controlled by Clearwire, further explained that the "F9W" in the Emission Designator Modulating Signal entry in Google's FCC application could indicate LTE technology. As quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, Crowley said “the only reason to use these frequencies is if you have business designs on some mobile service.”
Excited yet? Well, here's the potential buzzkill: The Wall Street Journal article also pointed out that very few mobile devices in existence can use the frequencies Google is trying to use for this experiment. Still, according to Crowley, "Google plans to test up to 50 base stations and 200 user devices." The phrase "200 user devices" makes me think of portable devices, and indeed the Wall Street Journal article stated that mobile operators in Brazil, China and Japan are already building wireless networks using those frequencies.
The icing on the cake? Both Phandroid and The Verge pointed out that Google's lawyers had large portions of the FCC application redacted because "the information for which confidential treatment is sought concerns the highly competitive consumer electronics market." So, it concerns the "consumer electronics market" does it?
Needless to say, this is very interesting news, but this is also in the very early stages of development. We will keep you up to date as more news comes to light on this latest Google experiment.