We all know that at this point Google is so much more than just a search engine. In fact, the company doesn't just want to be the number one site on the Internet - it wants to provide Internet access for you, too. That's why Google has been rolling out its speedy Google Fiber service across the country. Now, it might be experimenting with new technology that could let it deliver fiber-speed Internet to even more customers wirelessly.
There's some buzz around an application Google sent to the FCC the other day. The company wants approval to begin experimenting with data transmission over different over-the-air frequencies. One of those frequencies is called the millimeter-wave frequency. It's rarely used now but could carry a lot of data like an Internet connection. Google hasn't confirmed why it wants to test these frequencies, but there's a chance it could be used to create a very fast wireless Internet network at a cheaper price.
“From a radio standpoint it’s the closest thing to fiber there is,” said Stephen Crowley, a wireless engineer and consultant who monitors FCC filings, noting that millimeter frequencies can transmit data over short distances at speeds of several gigabits per second.
Google already has plans to bring high-speed Internet connections to 30 markets across the country and is providing free Internet in certain Starbucks locations. But, this recent news could further expand Google's footprint in the Internet provider industry.
It'll be a while before we see Google's wireless high-speed Internet service, if that is in fact what it is researching. Right now, it's just speculation from several telecommunications experts based on the company's FCC requests. Google itself is being very hush-hush on the topic. Even its filing with the FCC is really vague.
Google’s application to conduct the 180-day test is heavily redacted to protect confidential information that Google said would provide “valuable insight into Google’s technology innovations and potential business plans and strategy.”
If Google's research goes well and the company does develop wireless Internet services using millimeter frequencies, it could have a range of uses for the company, including offering cheaper, faster Internet to customers.
“This could be anything from something relatively small scale, like a way to supplement their existing fiber system to something like how to put a wireless cloud around your city that leverages your fiber backbone,” said Harold Feld, a senior vice president at Public Knowledge, a non-profit that focuses on broadband access and competition issues and which receives funding from tech companies including Google.
While we probably won't see this tech anytime soon, it's exciting to see the new and inventive ways companies are trying to improve our Internet experience. If you want the fastest Internet available now, check if Google Fiber is coming to your neighborhood. If it's not, AT&T is also rolling out its own high-speed fiber connection.