By Darrell Etherington
When Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) experiments, it can have earth-changing consequences. That might be the case with its latest project: the building of a wireless network on-campus at its Mountain View headquarters, reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. The small-scale network wouldn’t have much range, and it would be incompatible with most current-generation iOS and Android mobile smartphones and cellular-capable tablets, given the frequency it would use, but it could work very well in dense urban centers.
Already, China, Brazil, and Japan are building networks using the same frequencies, which means that eventually devices will likely be made to work on these networks, and if Google's building a small-scale version of those networks, it's probably going to be running experimental hardware that can take advantage of it, too. Google declined to share more info with the WSJ on what it was building the network for, but part of the application it filed with the FCC for its deployment includes launching the network in part from the building that houses the team responsible for Google Fiber.
Part of Google's extended plan for the experiment could be eventually offering a wireless service for Google Fiber users, expanding their coverage to an entire metropolitan area when they're outside of a house, for instance. That's just speculation from BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk, in conversation with the WSJ, but it's a plausible enough notion given where the project is spinning up at Google HQ.
There has been lots of talk in the past of Google's potential desire to build its own wireless service, sparked recently by news that it was in discussion with Dish, the TV service provider that has said in the past it was seeking a partner for building a wireless network. The company also aims to deploy free Wi-Fi access in NYC, beginning in Chelsea where it has its East Coast headquarters. A new project at its Mountain View facility to build a network using licensed spectrum, rather than Wi-Fi, indicates it could be looking to ramp up those efforts to a whole new level down the road.