Google to bring fast wireless broadband to a whole new spectrum

11 Aug 2016

Google anticipates an even faster wireless future in built-up urban areas by harnessing 3.5GHz spectrum to overcome Wi-Fi overcrowding

Google’s plans to set the standard as an ISP are reaching a whole new level, as it has emerged the company plans to experiment with spectrum in the 3.5GHz band in 24 US locations. Countries with broadband problems, like Ireland, need to take note.

Much has been said and written about the potential use of white spaces and redundant TV spectrum in the 50MHz and 700MHz ranges, but Google appears to be going in a completely different direction by seeking to operate within the 3.4 and 3.8GHz band.

In an FCC filing, Google said that testing wireless broadband in this spectrum might lead to the ability to deliver abundant quantities of fast internet access.

Google wants to test the spectrum to make sure it doesn’t interfere with government uses of spectrum, and it could be ideal to relieve Wi-Fi congestion.

Google reckons it could also carry heavy loads of data in high-traffic areas.

Google wants to move fast and has requested permission to dramatically expand its testing of experimental transmitters across 24 locations, including Utah, Omaha, Nebraska and Colorado, for up to two years.

Why nations need to pay attention to Google’s broadband experiments

Google’s plans to target the 3.5GHz spectrum range should prove interesting to other countries struggling to manage demand for broadband and spectrum.

Ireland, for example, is facing a spectrum shortage because of the impact of smartphones and smart devices.

Telecoms watchdog ComReg recently warned that Ireland will require a 200pc increase in wireless broadband delivery by 2019.

Although licences were awarded for 4G networks in 2012, as well as the refarming of the 800MHz band from broadcasting to mobile broadband use, the mobile beast will still need to be fed.

ComReg commissioner Gerry Fahy said the upcoming release of the 3.6GHz band plus the planned release of further spectrum bands such as 700MHz, 1.4GHz, 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz could support demand until 2019.

According to 2014 data, the use of radio spectrum is estimated to contribute €4.7bn to Ireland’s GDP – around 2.5pc – and supports 29,000 jobs.

Prism and light beam image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years