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A “secret commercially valuable plan”: Google is planning to test a 6GHz network

With a 5G explosion on the horizon, Google has already set its sights on the 6GHz spectrum, which is expected to allow for faster and more reliable connections.

According to a batch of FCC filings spotted by Business Insider, the company has requested government approval to test next-generation 6GHz WiFi in dozens of cities.

Google wants to experiment with 6GHz spectrum to “produce technical information relevant to the utility of these frequencies for providing reliable broadband connections,” reports The Verge. The company also says it expects the experiments to take place over 24 months.

The thing to know about 6GHz is that it’s expected to allow for faster and more reliable connections — it can carry more bandwidth than the 2.4GHz or 5GHz connections you might already be familiar with, and there could be less wireless interference between devices as well.

Jay Peters, News Writer for The Verge

Earlier this year, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to open up a plot of spectrum in the 6GHz band for unlicensed use, opening up a lot more open airwaves routers can use to broadcast Wi-Fi signals. Soon after, the UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, decided to make airwaves in the lower 6GHz band available for Wi-Fi services, to boost internet speeds.

In a redacted version of a letter to the FCC dated last Saturday, Google talks about using the newly-opened 6GHz spectrum for some “secret commercially valuable plan”.

While no further details are known about this plan, 6GHz will open up a plethora of possibilities for content creators and publishers, as it would deliver faster speeds by more than doubling the available WiFi frequencies.

The numbers make a difference (2.4GHz travels farther, but 6GHz delivers data faster), but what really matters isn’t the specific frequencies being used, but how large a swath of airwaves is available. And that’s why 6GHz is particularly exciting: this new band quadruples the total space available to traditional Wi-Fi.

Jacob Kastrenakes, Reports Editor for The Verge

“We don’t know the exact purpose for Google’s testing, but there are several reasons it will be interested,” says Hugh Langley, Senior Tech Reporter Business Insider. “The company is already in the business of internet delivery. It has its own range of Nest home WiFi devices, while Access – a sister company that sits under its parent Alphabet – is focused on delivering ultra-high-speed Fiber internet to people’s homes. 

“Plus, it has a range of devices such as smartphones and smart speakers that it will obviously want to work without a hitch, not to mention plans for plenty of future devices that could take advantage of the next-generation wireless standard.”

Devices are expected to start supporting 6GHz Wi-Fi by the end of 2020, so its implementation isn’t far away.