According to Fierce Wireless, search engine giant Google Inc has sought permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to test an experimental wireless network on its campus in Mountain View, California, using spectrum currently leased by Clearwire from several universities. The documents are said to have requested a licence for an ‘experimental radio service’ and cover a two-year trial period. Google seeks to use spectrum in the 2524MHz-2546MHz and 2567MHz-2625MHz frequency bands.
Although the precise details of the tests remain unclear, the development has prompted increased speculation over Google’s interest in wireless technology. In November Google held talks with satellite TV provider DISH Network regarding a potential mobile network joint venture, although little was disclosed over the potential tie-up. Industry insiders have also suggested that Google may be considering launching a mobile services on a region-by-region basis, similar to its Google Fiber project, which saw it construct an experimental 1Gbps fibre-optic broadband network in Kansas City.
TeleGeography notes that Google and Clearwire already have strong ties at an investor level. However, in February last year Zurich-based financial services company Credit Suisse Group acquired Google’s minority stake in Clearwire; the transaction saw Google offload 29.4 million shares for USD2.26 apiece, or USD66.5 million. That sale price represented a steep discount to the USD500 million originally paid by Google for the shares in 2008, but a marked improvement on the USD1.60 per share that it initially sought for its shareholding.