Google Fiber wants a better way of beaming the Internet into apartment buildings.
On Friday, the company filed a document with the Federal Communications Commission arguing that the agency should ease access to a chunk of wireless spectrum that could serve the ambitions of Google Fiber, the company’s ultra-high-speed Internet service.
The spectrum in question—the 70/80 Ghz band—is used by Webpass, the San Francisco broadband company now owned by Google Fiber (the acquisition closed today). Webpass uses this band to beam an Internet signal to the roofs of apartment buildings and condos, before stringing cables into living rooms. Google wants FCC rules that would allow it to use such technology on a much larger scale.
Google Fiber is as a separate company under the umbrella operation called Alphabet, and according to some reports it is under pressure to cut costs—even as iexpands its high-speed Internet service and pushes entrenched companies like Verizon and AT&T toward similar services. A faster Internet is good for Google.
Of course, it’s good for everyone. That’s why the progress of Google Fiber is worth watching.
Webpass now uses a point-to-point wireless. It beams a signal to a stationary antenna, as opposed to something that’s always moving, like a mobile phone. The 70/80 GHz band works because it offers fast connections over short distances. Google wants the FCC to allow “point-to-multipoint” connections, which essentially act like clusters of point-to-point connections. Although these multipoint networks would still be made up of stationary connections, they could cover a wider area.
Today, if Webpass or another company wants to build a point-to-multipoint system, it must register each link in the system. That means every node in a multipoint cluster would require a separate application to the FCC. What Google is recommending instead is the ability to register an entire area.
The company’s filing came in response to a notice of proposed rule making from the FCC. As part of sweeping changes to enable 5G mobile wireless connections, the agency is considering new rules that Google worries would make it harder to register links in the 70/80 GHz band. Reading between the lines, it appears that Google is concerned that a change in licensing would slow any expansion of Webpass. Google’s comments also suggest that the company might be working on new technologies to take advantage of multipoint systems.