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Google Experiments at 70 GHz+

By Ernest Worthman

Laugh at Google if you will, and one has to admit some of their schemes sound a bit “looney,” such as the Loon project and Titan aerospace drones developed to act as wireless relay stations. But one has to give them credit for running on the edge. And, they are still pushing the envelope. They got the FCC to give them the nod to start conducting nationwide airborne and terrestrial millimeter wave testing. They were granted an experimental license, which, of course sparked informal objections from the sky is falling set, registering their concerns about health effects and interference on surrounding life forms.

Granted this is up there in the 70 GHz+ bands, which are quite capable of cooking living tissue, but at 75,000 feet, there really isn’t much living tissue nearby. And passing though the beam quickly isn’t likely to have any side effects either. So shooting narrow beam widths at balloons shouldn’t be that much of a problem. Don’t we already do that with satellite operations?

As much as I like to laugh at Google and hate them for their sneaky spying tactics, I love that they are out there on this. If this comes to pass, it has the potential to ease up the bandwidth crunch by being another offload data platform. And with 70-plus percent of the traffic being data, nowadays, offloading much of it will keep the frequencies from developing data gridlock. Wi-Fi is being used for that so why can’t Google get in the game. Even if their platforms are drones and balloons?

Google Jockeying for the Wireless Future

2015 in Review

By Ernest Worthman —

Another interesting topic of 2015 is Google. Is there any doubt that Google is jockeying for position as a wireless carrier and an ISP? The year was full of news about that. They have been working on that for years but it seems that this year there was a good amount of news about Google fiber.

It seems that the metrics of uber-fast Internet, coupled with wide bandwidth and cost savings, have people sitting up and taking notice of Google’s fiber platform. There are a number of other things that Google caught eyes on in 2015. Things like the balloon scheme, Project Loon; the drone project, Titan: Project Wing; mobile service, Project Fi, and its latest secret project in the 28 GHz and 31 GHz bands, suspected of looking for playing space in the 5G arena. Google also just petitioned the FCC to run some trials on aircraft hovering at 25,000 feet as relay points for wireless communications.

Without a doubt, Google is charging ahead in arenas that are traditionally held by wireless players. No doubt they will be in this report at the end of 2016 as well.

What is Google Up to Now?

By Ernest Worthman —

August 26, 2015 — I love following what Google is up to. Some of their ideas are just insane, but when you have that kind of money, you can be insane. And every once in a while the behemoth actually comes up with a good idea that doesn’t involve knowing everything about you, what you do and where. But this one I’m not so sure about.

Google is looking at operating drones using LTE frequencies. They have partnered with NASA, under a NASA’s Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), so they can experiment with unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Funny, that Google can partake in a program originally intended for government agencies. It is supposed to be reserved for public organizations like the military, state universities and police or fire departments.

The experiments could last up to six months and involve transmissions on the LTE radio frequencies used by all the major cellphone companies.

NASA’s Ames Research Center recently released an open call to invite government, industry and academic partners to collaborate with NASA to conduct and identify research needs and to accelerate the development of an air-traffic control system for drones. NASA is also investigating the possibility of drone monitoring via cell technology.

Hmmm…I have a bit of a hard time with this. Call me paranoid, but this smells to me like one of those “let’s see what we can contrive to cover up new government plans to snoop on things.” Involved are Google, NASA and the cell phone carrier.

Google Public Wi-Fi Trial Goes Live

If you want to know where Wi-Fi is going next, follow the fiber. Or the Google Fiber so it would seem. Google, which has famously rolled out fiber to three U.S. cities with plans for nine more, began testing outdoor public hotspots with free Wi-Fi service in the Crown Center shopping district in Kansas City, Missouri, last week

Visionary Google May become Public Wi-Fi player

There are multiple signs of Wi-Fi interest at Google. In the middle of last year, Google committed to spending $600,000 to provide Wi-Fi to dozens of parks in San Francisco. Also, in mid-2013, Google knocked AT&T out and took over the Wi-Fi service at the nationwide Starbucks chain of coffee shops. Now, it has been reported that Google is approaching residents of 34 cities building interest in a plan to provide public Wi-Fi.

It has long been rumored that Google fancied getting into wireless. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google and DISH Network were discussing a partnership. Beyond partnering with DISH or LightSquared, the big ticket — and getting bigger as the FCC allocates more spectrum — for getting into wireless is Wi-Fi. And Google appears to be heading in that direction.



Ted Abrams, CTO, WiFi Wireless, said that public spectrum is the key to meeting the growing wireless communications demands of users. Currently, the big four carriers have access to less than 600 megahertz of spectrum, while we have more than 700 megahertz of public spectrum in the United States.

“We cannot continue to limit wireless networks to private spectrum,” Abrams said. “The only way to solve the problem is to incorporate public spectrum in combination with private spectrum.”

Both Google, with Google Hangout group video calls, and Facebook, which purchased WhatsApp, the cross-platform mobile messaging app, are providing the platforms for Wi-Fi First wireless networks.

“Google is building the ecosystem that represents a very solid foundation for long and positive growth in Wi-Fi First services,” Abrams said. 

WVU Site of Nation’s First Campus ‘Super Wi-Fi’ network

This month, West Virginia University became the first university in the United States to use vacant broadcast TV channels to provide the campus and nearby areas with wireless broadband Internet service, known as Super Wi-Fi.

The Super Wi-Fi pilot project was the result of a partnership between WVU and the Advanced Internet Regions (AIR.U) consortium, which consists of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation, Google, Microsoft, and organizations that represent 500 universities.

Adaptrum, a California startup, is providing white space equipment designed to operate on vacant TV channels, and the fiber-optic backhaul is provided by West Virginia Network for Telecomputing. The network deployment is managed by AIR.U co-founder Declaration Networks Group, which does network engineering design, deployment, operation and support.

“Super Wi-Fi presents a lower-cost, scalable approach to deliver high-capacity wireless networks … and it is a new broadband alternative to provide sustainable models that can be replicated and extended to towns and cities nationwide,” said Bob Nichols, CEO of Declaration Networks Group and AIR.U co-founder.

Adaptrum’s TV band white space device, Model ACRS 1.0, is approved by the FCC and authorized to operate in the entire UHF TV band with an output EIRP close to 36 dBm.

Adaptrum’s ACRS 1.0 TV white space system uses the Telcordia TV white-space database. The operation was approved for the entire UHF TV band (Channel 14 to 51, from 470 MHz to 698 MHz) and authorized for a radiated output power close to 4 watts EIRP (with more than 0.5 watts conducted output power and up to 10 dBi antenna gain.) The ACRS 1.0 system is built upon Adaptrum’s cognitive radio technology with an Adaptive orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) engine. It features an output signal that meets the FCC TV band device emission requirements while maximizing channel spectrum efficiency.

The ACRS 1.0 system provides all the necessary functions to be FCC Part 15 Subpart H rules-compliant, but it uses commercial, off-the-shelf RF and digital components that are not optimized for mass production. The company plans to introduce a second-generation TV white space system, which will be optimized for cost and large-scale production. In the meantime, ACRS 1.0 systems will be produced and offered in limited quantities to interested parties for customer testing and trials.

The initial phase of the WVU deployment provides free public Wi-Fi access for students and faculty at the Public Rapid Transit platforms, a 73-car tram system that transports more than 15,000 riders daily.

“Not only does the AIR.U deployment improve wireless connectivity for the PRT System, but it also demonstrates the real potential of innovation and new technologies to deliver broadband coverage and capacity to rural areas and small towns,” said WVU Chief Information Officer John Campbell.

The propagation characteristics of TV band spectrum enable networks to broadcast Wi-Fi connections over several miles and over hilly and forested terrain, earning it the moniker “Super Wi-Fi” service.

“The innovative WVU network demonstrates why it is critical that the FCC allows companies and communities to use vacant TV channel spectrum on an unlicensed basis,” said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at the New America Foundation. “We expect that hundreds of rural and small town colleges and surrounding communities will soon take advantage of this very cost-effective technology to extend fast and affordable broadband connections where they are lacking.”

The consortium of higher education associations, public interest groups and high-tech companies, known as AIR.U, joined together to bring broadband wireless to underserved campuses and their surrounding communities. The idea for AIR.U arose out of discussions among members of the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, (Gig.U), which is a consortium of research university communities that seeks to accelerate the deployment of next-generation networks and services in the United States.

“We are delighted that AIR.U was born out of the Gig.U effort,” said Blair Levin, executive director of Gig.U and former executive director of the National Broadband Plan. “The communities that are home to our research universities and colleges across the country need next-generation speeds to compete in the global economy, and we firmly believe this effort can be a model for other communities.”