Google Seeks FCC Permission For Secretive Tests

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Google sought permission from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow it to experiment with millimeter-wave technology for two years, says a report from The Register. Google’s public filing is redacted and is mostly related to the name of the entity it wants to run the tests, specific locations and antenna characteristics.

Google assures safety

In the filing that sparked speculations about Project Loon coming to America, the company filed a heavily-redacted request to run unspecified experiments in the 70 GHz and 80 GHz bands. These bands were also part of Google’s October 2014 application to run tests in California.

Google has assured protection to users with specific geographic licenses in the 70 and 80 GHz bands. To comply with the non-interference rules, GPS receivers on Google’s unspecified experimental platform will track its location and velocity, as mentioned in the filing.

Google is offering several other interference prevention measures, including: changing the transmission frequencies and restricting them to limits that can avoid harmful interference; reducing transmission power to a level below what is needed for throughput optimization; reducing the bandwidth of the transmitter; setting the relevant transmit antenna at an angle that is not in line with the vulnerable receivers; using cross-polarization to lower the power received by registered users; and discontinuing transmission in cases where none of the above-mentioned techniques eliminate potential harmful interference.

In the filing, Google also states that it is prepared to coordinate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to ensure that other federal operations in the band do not sustain harmful interference from its testing.

Loon balloons or delivery by drone?

It can’t be said with certainty that Americans will see Loon balloons in flight next year because the document is heavily redacted. However, one aspect of the filing carries a promise from Google to not blind radio astronomers, the report says.

“Google has a coordination agreement in place with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) to ensure that that operations under [REDACTED] current experimental authorizations (Call signs WH9XYD and WH2XUP) do not cause interference to radio astronomy observations at NRAO’s Owens Valley location,” the filing says.

The Register believes that 70/80 GHz band and millimeter-wave communications would suit delivery by drone. In fact, delivery by drone would be a better “application than Project Loon, because the 70/80 GHz bands lose most of their oomph at 10 Km, around half the altitude Google’s balloons fly at,” says The Register.

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