Google Wants Cheaper Airwaves to Increase Online Access

google airwaves

Although Google doesn’t offer cell phone service directly (yet), the company has a major stake in the software that runs cell phones.

Now it is trying to turn that influence into pressure on the government to make cell phone service easier to offer and access for millions of consumers. The Internet giant has begun lobbying U.S. regulators to free up low-cost, mostly vacant wireless channels in order to compete with big carriers like AT&T and Verizon.

If the Google lobbying is successful…If the plan goes through, it would open up as much as 150 megahertz of spectrum around the 3.5 gigahertz band. This would make this bandwidth usable by all comers without a license, but still leave room for companies to gain access. Right now, the 3.5 gigahertz airwaves aren’t very useful to wireless carriers.

The airwaves can’t carry signals for long distances at all. However, they can be used to transfer heavy loads of data. This could make them very useful for typical wireless needs that are covered through Wi-Fi – but unlike Wi-Fi this bandwidth could potential be broader.

What does Google have to gain here? For example, the bandwidth could be used by start ups to create wireless networks in parks, buildings or public areas for low or no cost to consumers. Officially, Google has declined to comment on how the spectrum might be used. But analysts predict that Google has a stake because the spectrum would allow users to access their products like Gmail or YouTube through their smartphones anywhere. In addition, the rollout of Google Fiber, fast broadband internet, and experimentation with hot air balloons that will stream wireless coverage to a small area, point to Google’s desire to increase access to its product and other offerings.

The unspecified Internet access project is being headed by Google executive Milo Medin, who previously ran Google Fiber. In addition, the company recently hired Andrew Clegg, a spectrum expert at the National Science Foundation and Preston Marshall, a spectrum expert formerly from DARPA.


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