Google Experiments with Wireless Network, Scaring the Bejesus Out of AT&T, Verizon

Google is working on a small network at its headquarters in Mountain View

By on January 24th, 2013 12:11 GMT

Google is building an experimental wireless network at its headquarters in Mountain View. The network would operate at frequencies not used by current carriers or WiFi networks, but are used by Clearwire in the US for its WiMAX service.

Google has made no comments about the network, but filings to the FCC asking for permission to build the network are available.

Google is building a wireless network

The company plans to build some 50 ground stations and connect 200 or so devices to the network around the building that houses Google Fiber, the company's broadband and IPTV venture.

Very few devices currently operate in the 2524 to 2625 megahertz range that Google will uses, indicating that if it plans to roll this out wider it will have to provide its own devices as well.

Google's plans for the network are pure speculation for now, but it's not hard to imagine the company offering wireless internet and VoIP calls over large areas in US cities. Anything like that would take years though.

Wireless access to Fiber subscribers – fast, cheap internet anywhere

There's a hint that it plans to do this for its Fiber subscribers in Kansas, enabling them to access the internet from their mobile devices anywhere in the city.

Google could very well get its new Motorola unit to build devices specifically for its network and hand them out cheaply or even freely to its Fiber subscribers.

A Google network would mortify AT&T and Verizon

The company has been at the mercy of carriers in the US and elsewhere for a long time and would very much like the opportunity to bypass them.

With its own network, there would be no middlemen between its users and its services, meaning no YouTube throttling, no ISPs asking Google to pay for traffic they're already getting paid for and so on.

Given Google's history, you can expect that such a service, and the devices to work on it, would be heavily subsidized and the company to make up its losses through advertising.

A Google-owned wireless service would be AT&T and Verizon's biggest nightmare, which is reason enough to build it.

The reasoning behind Google Fiber has always been not to build a nationwide ISP, but to discover ways to make fast internet cheaper, officially, and, somewhat unofficially, push (scare) broadband providers into improving their service.

Net neutrality would backfire against carriers

As a side note, its own wireless network would also explain or at least exonerate Google of its curious decision a few years ago when it dropped the net neutrality battle for wireless networks.

Carriers have been using their power to slow down certain services, YouTube for example, to strongarm Google. Now, that plan could backfire, the fact that Google services are slowed down by other carriers could be used as an advantage of the Google network, which could even conceivably give priority to its own services.

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