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Google Eyes Wireless Broadband Trials

Google is gearing up to conduct wireless broadband trials in as many as 24 U.S. locations, including New York City, Chicago and Atlanta, according to a partially-redacted document filed with the FCC on August 5 that is seeking permission to move forward.

Google “requests authorization to conduct radio experiments in support of developing Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) technologies, using [REDACTED] experimental transmitters at up to 24 U.S. locations,” the company noted in the filing, adding that it’s seeking the green light to conduct experiments for 24 months.

The company said the FCC’s decision to allocate the 3.5GHz band for shared use opens up the door for wireless broadband options.

Google’s request is to operate its trials in and adjacent to the 3550-3700 MHz band that has been opened up for small-cell spectrum sharing by CBRS devices.

“Authority to operate in this range will ensure that Google has access to sufficient spectrum for experimentation while avoiding interference to incumbent operations…”

Google’s continued flirtation with wireless comes amid Google Fiber’s relatively slow deployment of FTTP networks in several markets. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Google Fiber has put buildouts on hold so it can pursue less expensive alternatives.

Ruth Porat, CFO of Google parent company Alphabet, said on the latest earnings call that Google Fiber is “exploring both fiber and wireless” while referencing Google’s recent acquisition of Webpass, a company that specializes in wireless broadband delivery in markets such as San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Miami, Chicago and Boston.

"We are working to test the viability of a wireless network that relies on newly available spectrum," an Alphabet spokesperson told Business Insider, the first to report about the FCC filing. "The project is in early stages today, but we hope this technology can one day help deliver more abundant Internet access to consumers."

According to the filing, Google is eyeing the following markets as potential test locations: Phoenix, Ariz.; Atwater, Los Angeles, Mountain View, Palo Alto , San Bruno and San Francisco, Calif; Boulder, Colo.; Tampa, Fla.; Atlanta, Ga.; Chicago, Ill.; Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City , Kan.; Omaha, Neb.; Las Vegas, Nev.; New York City; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; Provo, Utah; and Blacksburg and Reston, Va.

On the wired end of the business, Google Fiber has launched service in parts of Nashville, Tenn.; Atlanta; Kansas City; and Provo, Utah, and has also committed to deploy in Salt Lake City; San Antonio; and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.  It has also been mulling expansions in Los Angeles; Chicago; Dallas; Portland, Ore.; San Jose, Irvine and San Diego, Calif.; Phoenix; Oklahoma City; Louisville, Ky.; and Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.

In Atlanta, Google Fiber started off by using existing fiber infrastructure to deliver service to a select batch of apartment buildings. Google Fiber announced via Twitter this week that it has started sign-ups Atlanta for the network it is building there, and set up a deadline of September 29 for the Midtown East and Piedmont Heights areas.