Last month, Google launched New York City’s largest free neighborhood-wide wireless network, in Chelsea area. However, this news has been replaced with the talk of Google building an entirely new wireless network, based on licensed spectrum, at its Mountain View campus. What makes this initiative newsworthy is the unique, and somewhat weird nature of this proposed network. The network is a small-scale one, without much range, and the frequency is incompatible with most current-generation Android and iOS devices. It would suit dense urban areas perfectly though.
Google has not officially stated its intentions for experimenting with a new wireless network. However, the application with the Federal Communications Commission gives the reason as setting up a non-broadcast “experimental radio service,” and the location as the same building that houses Google Fiber. This has given rise to speculations that the experiment could be to offer a exclusive wireless service for Google Fiber users. Google Fiber promises a new type of Internet, 100 times faster than present-day broadband, meaning crystal-clear HD television with instant downloads.
However, the reason for launching the new wireless network could be anything else as well.
A plausible reason could be moves to secure competitive advantage. Brazil, China and Japan are building networks in the 2524 to 2625 megahertz range, the same frequency of Google’s new network. It is only a matter of time before this frequency becomes mainstream and compatible with major mobile devices. Google’s move may be to experiment with hardware that works on this frequency, to iron out the glitches, and be ready when the frequency goes mainstream, thereby clinching a clear head start over rivals.
On the other hand, experiments with the new wireless network may simply be a part of Google’s continuous cycle of innovation. Google subsists on innovations, and innovation has played a big role in the making of almost all its products, starting from the search engine. For every innovation, such as Google Glass, and even Google Fiber, that has attracted headlines and delivered amazing solutions, dozens of attempts end up in failure. So, at this point of time, it is unclear whether anything would come out of the experiments with the new wireless service.
Incidentally, the frequency range in question happens to be part of the spectrum owned by Clearwire, and Dish TV is in talks with Clearwire to purchase this spectrum. This lends credence to rumors of Google entering into partnership with Dish TV to build this new wireless network.