- January 24, 2013 12:40pm EST
Google is setting up a wireless network at its Mountain View headquarters, but it’s unclear at this point how the search giant might use it.
As noted by the Wall Street Journal, the effort could allow Google to offer free Wi-Fi hotspots to Google Fiber clients, much like larger telecom giants do today.
During a fourth-quarter earnings call earlier this week, Patrick Pichette, Google’s chief financial officer, insisted that Google Fiber was “not a hobby” and that Google wanted to expand to other cities. But first, Google has “to nail Kansas City” – the only city in which Google Fiber is currently available. “It’s the perfect place to de-bug” before expanding, he said.
News of the wireless network cropped up after Google submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission for a non-broadcast “experimental radio service.”
Much of the application was labeled as confidential, but the two paragraphs that were not redacted said Google would deploy five to 10 base stations inside its Mountain View headquarters for use on up to 40 user devices. In the future, additional deployments would occur on building rooftops throughout the Google campus.
“Google plans to test up to 50 base stations and 200 user devices during the requested experimental license term, and requests authority to deploy in these quantities,” Google told the FCC.
Engineer Steven Crowley, who noticed the FCC filing, said in a blog post that the frequencies Google wants to use are currently utilized by Clearwire for its mobile broadband service (Google sold its Clearwire stake last year).
“A cursory check of the FCC’s database (the accuracy of which varies) indicates that Clearwire, in the Mountain View area, might be leasing at least some of this spectrum from Stanford University,” Crowley wrote.
Clearwire and Google are not talking about what they might have up their sleeves. The application comes about two months after reports that Dish Network and Google were discussing the possibility of partnering to build a new wireless service to rival that of AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The Journal, however, said that the frequencies cited by the FCC application aren’t compatible with today’s smartphones and tablets.
Earlier this month, meanwhile, Google unveiled a neighborhood-wide wireless network in New York City’s Chelsea area, where Google has an office. Free Wi-Fi is available from Gansevoort Street to 19th Street, between Eighth Avenue and the West Side Highway, making it the largest contiguous wireless grid in New York City. Google already provides Wi-Fi at Mountain View.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
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