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Google brews a mystery experimental wireless network at its HQ

Google is setting up a 50 base-station network for its Mountain View HQ, thought to be a way of testing out an experimental network architecture.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

Google has filed an application to build an "experimental" wireless network on its campus, but is keeping details under wraps, fearing it could reveal trade secrets that might disrupt vendor relations in the consumer electronics market.

Google HQ Mountain View
Google's HQ in Mountain View is getting an experimental 50 base-station network supporting 200 mobile devices. (Credit: Google)

The application and proposal it submitted to the FCC last week offered few details about the network, save that Google wants to place 50 base stations on its Mountain View, California, campus to support 200 user devices over a two-year period.

Rooftop base stations placed around the campus will have a radius of 500 metres to 1km while indoor base stations will have a range of 100 to 200 metres, the filings said.

Steven Crowley, the consulting wireless engineer who first noticed the application, noted that the spectrum Google has requested were bands allocated to Clearwire--the US mobile network operator that Google owned a small stake in until February last year.

Details on the form suggest Google intends to use long-term evolution (LTE) for the experiment, which will use devices that can access frequencies between 2524-2546 and 2567-2625MHz.

One question that remains is whether the experiment is to test devices or a network architecture. Cowley suspects it's the latter, which could be tested using equipment that already exists.

Meanwhile, wireless industry analyst Walter Piecyk at research firm BTIG told The Wall Street Journal that consumer mobile devices that run on that spectrum are not widely available. However, he added that mobile operators in China, Brazil, and Japan are building wireless networks using these spectrum bands, which means there could be demand for such products in the future.

Separately, on the wireless network front, Google this month launched a free Wi-Fi service in Chelsea, New York, home to its headquarters in the city. It has already done the same for its headquarters in Mountain View.

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