Google Pursues Tests for Wireless High-Speed Broadband

In a request submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week, Google asked for permission to test an experimental wireless broadband service in up to 24 cities across the U.S.

The FCC application comes two months after Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt acknowledged during a shareholder meeting that his company is exploring wireless alternatives to its high-speed Fiber program, which is deployed in six U.S. cities. While Google has announced plans to expand Google Fiber to several other metropolitan areas, installing the necessary infrastructure is proving costly and time-consuming.

Wireless high-speed broadband could provide a better alternative than fiber, especially in less densely populated areas. Google has recently indicated that it is interested in pursuing such an alternative, for example, announcing plans in June to acquire the San Francisco-based Internet service provider Webpass.

The company has also told at least two cities on its proposed Fiber list that it was delaying preparations to investigate less costly options, according to a report in the Mercury News earlier this week.

Seeking Approval 'Expeditiously'

"We are working to test the viability of a wireless network that relies on newly available spectrum," a Google spokesperson told us today. "The project is in early stages today, but we hope this technology can one day help deliver more abundant Internet access to consumers."

Google's application to the FCC follows that agency's approval last year of a new Citizens Broadband Radio Service for wireless services in the 3.5 GHz band of the radio spectrum. In addition to protecting military radar systems from interference, the new rule made spectrum space available for improved wireless broadband services for consumers.

According to a redacted public version of Google's application released by the FCC, the company is seeking an experimental license to test wireless broadband technologies in up to two dozen locations over...

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