Google Fiber is a great option for those looking for ultra-fast broadband, but the service currently only covers a small number of locations, it isn’t growing particularly quickly, and it doesn’t help when you’re on the go. Google’s wireless Project Fi, which switches between 3G, 4G, and WiFi connections, is perhaps a more feasible idea to boost consumer data speeds across such a vast country. It appears that the company is planning to expand this idea and is preparing for the arrival of 5G as well.
Lately, Google has been testing out experimental wireless transmissions in the 3.5GHz band in Kansas City, which sits not too far away from the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands used by WiFi routers. Impressively, the company claims to have surpassed 1Gbps wireless data speeds during its tests, which matches part of the criteria for a 5G network. A recent filing with the FCC reveals that the company is now looking to expand use of its “experimental transmitters” to 24 new US locations, including Utah, Omaha, Nebraska, and Boulder Colorado. Unfortunately for us, this testing is all going to be done internally, for now.
“We are working to test the viability of a wireless network that relies on newly available spectrum … The project is in early stages today, but we hope this technology can one day help deliver more abundant Internet access to consumers.” – Google spokesperson
In addition, Google is now advertising a position for a wireless systems engineer, who’s role will be to investigate mobile wireless technologies for tomorrows markets. The company will be looking at current 4G LTE solutions and the “next generation 5G system.”
Google’s current experimentation in the 3.5GHz band is much lower in frequency than the spectrum being proposed for use with 5G networks. The FCC recently agreed to open up unlicensed bandwidth between the 64GHz and 71GHz bands for future 5G applications. Even so, aggregating short range WiFi networks with longer range 4G LTE is following a similar path to proposed 5G networks, which should be able to combine both licensed and unlicensed spectra. Project Fi backed by 4G LTE, future short range 5G bands, and fiber optic WiFi certainly sounds promising, if that’s indeed what Google is planning for.
Of course none of this guarantees that Google will deploy a 5G network of its own in the future, but the company is conducting research right in the heart of this emerging field.