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Google Testing High-Powered Transmitters In New Mexico

March 4, 2016 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

As revealed by some Federal Communications Commission (FCC) documentation filed in late February, Google is momentarily working on some brand new technology in New Mexico, USA. More specifically, it turns out that Spaceport America in the Jornada del Muerto desert basin is currently hosting a 100KW radio transmitter which is being tested for unknown purposes though some educated guesses can definitely be made.

While the majority of crucial information in the aforementioned documents was redacted for confidentiality purposes at Google’s request, some details were still deduced from what was left. As such we know that the tech giant is currently trying out some extremely directional and consequently high-powered transmissions at 2.5 GHz, 5.8GHz, 24GHz, 71-76GHz, and 81-86GHz. Most of the FCC filing you can read for yourself by following the link below basically assures the FCC that Google’s experimental transmission won’t create any kind of unwanted and harmful interference though there’s also some other interesting details to be read here. One of them is a radio license call sign WI9XZE used in the latest New Mexico experiment which can’t be found in the FCC database and which Google has presumably created just for the purposes of this test. The filing doesn’t detail the type of bands and transmitters Google is using which isn’t particularly important given how most of the tested transmissions aren’t too interesting in terms of supported frequencies. However, those last two transmissions listed above could only have been emitted with some pretty impressive tech, i.e. a transmitter with an effective radiated power (ERP) of 96,411 W, or almost a hundred kilowatts. For comparison, that’s the maximum radio frequency power used by the most powerful US FM stations. Google’s antennas aren’t emitting omnidirectional waves like the radio station ones, though. Instead, the company is using ones with a beam width of less than half a degree while its transmitters are only outputting half a watt worth of power. In other words, the transmitters in questions have high range and low power consumption and are therefore extremely energy efficient.

That short description pretty much sums up why most people believe this latest test is either somehow related to Google Project SkyBender whose aim is to deliver 5G Internet speeds to remote locations or the Project Loon altitude balloons which are pretty much designed to do the exact same thing with LTE Internet. Time will tell whether one, both, or neither one of these initiatives will benefit from the latest New Mexico experiment.