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Google asks FCC to test drones in New Mexico

Google has asked the FCC to tests drones.
September 16, 2014

As this site has discussed previously, Google has been looking to push forward their plans for balloon-powered Internet access around the world, deemed Project Loon.

Now Google has asked the FCC to use wireless frequencies as part of several tests using drones made by Titan Aerospace. Specifically, Google is asking the FCC for use of the unlicensed 2400 MHz band for transmission from a drone to the ground and use of the 900 MHz for the return transmission.

Google is looking to test their drones for 180 days beginning October 6, 2014 and would occur between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Titan drones are powered by solar energy and can stay aloft for up to five years.

At first glance, this may look as Google trying to expand their idea of drones providing Internet connectivity similar to their balloon-based Project Loon. Google put in their application to the FCC that their drones “may eventually be used to provide Internet connections in remote areas or help monitor environmental damage, such as oil spills or deforestation.”


But as PCWorld notes, Google may be using these tests for reasons other than internet expansion.

“The emission designator they specify for the drone-to-ground transmission is specifically for analog video and not for data transmission. So, on paper, this is not an internet access test,” said Steve Crowley, a wireless engineer.
It’s hard to say why Google would want to transmit analog video. Crowley speculates that Google may in fact want to test ground equipment or some other process where the type of signal transmitted from the drone doesn’t really matter. Perhaps Google really does want to transmit video for a service related to mapping. – PCWorld

Google’s application has yet to be answered by the FCC.