Google has requested permission from the FCC to secretly test next-generation 6GHz Wi-Fi in several states across the United States. The company has asked the regulatory body to keep the specifics of the test under wraps, saying that "if subject to public disclosure, would cause significant commercial, economic, and competitive harm."
"Google proposes to conduct experimental propagation testing in the 6GHz band to produce technical information relevant to the utility of these frequencies for providing reliable broadband connections," the company writes. It's unclear exactly what Google is trying to test, though.
The company expects the tests to take up to 24 months. It has requested permission to test in 26 cities across 17 states. Those include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
Google wants to conduct tests in only one or two cities in most of the states. However, in its home state, California, it plans to test in seven cities, including Los Angeles, the home to Google's Venice office, and San Bruno, where YouTube has its headquarters.
Google wants to test in the 6GHz band
The FCC voted to open up a section of the 6GHz band for unlicensed use in April this year. The idea was that this would usher in faster Wi-Fi. While many big tech companies welcomed the decision, some voiced concerns as well. Notably, AT&T said that this opens up risks of interference with the existing infrastructure.
Google is wary of these fears and promises to conduct tests "without harmful interference to other authorized users". The company may even limit to indoor operation in some areas to avoid interference if need be. It would conduct tests in the 5650 MHz to 7125 MHz range.
There are a number of possibilities for what Google might want to test in the 6GHz spectrum. The spectrum could be used for 5G, vehicle-to-vehicle Wi-Fi communication, IoT, and more. 6GHz Wi-Fi would also allow for significantly faster and more reliable connections.
Wi-Fi 6E routers, that might run at 6GHz, are expected to come later this year. However, given Google's expected time frame to complete the tests, it appears to be planning for something more than that.
The mention of "broadband" in the filing suggests it has something to do with wireless internet. The filing names Andrew Clegg as the technical contact. Clegg leads Google's Citizens Broadband Radio Service spectrum sharing efforts.
Perhaps, Google is working on future internet services using the 6GHz spectrum, possibly under its Fiber WebPass banner. There are many speculations and we're curious to know what it might be. Hopefully, we'll get to know a little more about it in the coming months when Google begins the "secret" tests.