Blog Post

Is Google asking the FCC to allow gigabit Wi-Fi for its gigabit network?

Google’s(s goog) Fiber organization is asking the FCC for the ability to test a residential gateway that has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It’s likely Google is asking the FCC for an experimental licence to test upcoming 802.11ac gigabit Wi-Fi technology inside residential gateways.

However, those longing for innovation in broadband here in the U.S. can hope that there are bigger plans in the works. With a fiber to the home network and gigabit Wi-Fi Google could take a cue from the recent launches in France and in the U.S. of mobile networks that lean heavily on Wi-Fi. Then Google could build a network that offers truly ubiquitous broadband within the confines of Palo Alto, Calif., and maybe later in Kansas City.

From the application to the FCC, which was spotted by Stephen Crowley,

Google Fiber seeks to test Bluetooth and Wi-Fi protocols and performance (including coordination of Wi-Fi channels between devices and in the presence of foreign signals) within an integrated access point as part of a fiber residential gateway. This line of testing will reveal real world engineering issues and reliability. The planned testing is not directed at evaluating the radio frequency characteristics of the equipment (which are known), but rather at the throughput and stability of the home networks that will support the equipment, as well as its basic functionality.

Right now, the current Wi-Fi technology (802.11n) tops out 600 Mbps, which means Wi-Fi becomes the bottleneck if you have a gigabit network coming into your home. 802.11ac’s multi-gigabit speeds would go a long way to opening up that pipe. But while chip companies have produced silicon for the next generation Wi-Fi standard, the standard itself isn’t ratified, nor are those chips in any real products that have passed through the FCC’s approval process. This application may be one of the first application for a commercial next-gen Wi-Fi device, although Google asked the FCC to keep many of the details confidential.

Of course, such powerful Wi-Fi and a fiber-to-the-home network opens up many more possibilities than mere super-fast home networking. Google could use its residential gateways and the fiber connection to blanket an entire town with incredibly fast Wi-Fi (and Bluetooth) networks. These technologies would give Google the tools to make broadband truly ubiquitous both inside and outside homes, which is a goal I’d love to see.

6 Responses to “Is Google asking the FCC to allow gigabit Wi-Fi for its gigabit network?”

  1. Richard Bennett

    On the 100 Mbps cable broadband networks of today, the networks are not the bottleneck for any mainstream use, the shared servers are. This exercise is a waste of time and money.

    • …as was supersonic flight, reaching the moon, CDMA technology, sailing around the flat world, etc. Many great ideas need leaders to suss them out. Often they fail…but even in failure society learns lessons. Sometimes they succeed, and the gains are formidable. And in this case, Google takes all the risk.

      Your point is silly, anyway. If Google is willing to invest in the last mile gig network, do you suggest that their engineers were not clever enough to have thought of “shared server” congestion? And do you think that problem is unsolvable?

  2. It is likely Google asked for FCC permission because it owns a CLEC, and will probably want their unregistered device to connect to the telephone network, for which it would need permission. I should imagine Google already has any licenses it needs to test experimental transmission technologies, if that even needs a license. I class your conclusion as over-conjecture.

    • So let me make sure I understand your criticism of Stacey here: You say it is over-conjecture of her to propose that Google might have asked the FCC for permission to test wifi ac. That notion seems wrong to you.

      And yet, you then say that Google probably already did that very same thing: “I should imagine Google already has any licenses it needs to test experimental transmission technologies”.

      Some people undermine their arguments as they ramble on, but it takes a true master to undermine his own arguments in subsequent sentences.

      The answer to your confusion is hidden in the indented quote from Google’s FCC application “Google Fiber seeks to test Bluetooth and Wi-Fi protocols and performance…”

  3. Me too!(US7831250) This would allow not only low cost per bit mobile data but also the delivery of the bandwidth hog Video to Fixed AND Mobile devices where ever they are in the footprint. It would offload the Cellular Wireless services and their Carriers in Metro areas, lowering our expenses. Most importantly, combining Fiber Fixed & Mobile, Video & Data in one huge pipe means that revenue increases to the point that Fiber-To-The-Home & Small to Medium-sized Businesses is PROFITABLE so it can be deployed! http:iNet2.Tv eJ