February 7, 2017
Google is driving ahead with tests on wireless broadband on the 3.5GHz shared spectrum band in the US, in partnership with Nokia and Qualcomm.
The trio Tuesday claimed the first live demonstration of a private LTE network using 3.5GHz shared spectrum at the Las Vegas speedway. The demo delivered 360-degree video streaming from "stock car race cars" -- operating at the Richard Petty Driving Experience -- driving at speeds of up to 180mph.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) officially teamed up to work on 3.5GHz networks in August 2016. The 3.5GHz band -- or CBRS (Citizens Radio Broadband Service) -- in the US is an unlicensed band. Although it is currently used by the US Navy for radar applications, since 2013, Google -- and others -- have lobbied the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to open up the spectrum to be shared for mobile broadband applications. (See Tech Giants Team Up on 3.5GHz Initiative.)
Google sees 3.5GHz as a potential path to offering 4G LTE services to supplement -- and maybe even supersede -- its Google Fiber Inc. offerings. In August, Google asked the FCC if it could test CBRS-based system in 24 cities in the US, using Nokia infrastructure. (See Google, LTE-U & the Question of a Wireless Broadband Future and Google Looks to Test 3.5GHz Broadband Radios.)
Nokia, meanwhile, also sees 3.5GHz as a way to develop the business mobile market further. Enterprises could use the unlicensed spectrum to create campus-based wireless networks for staff and visitors, or other applications. (See Nokia Expands Its Small Cell Portfolio.)
And Qualcomm? Well Qualcomm likes anything that helps them sell more modems.
Potential alt-operators like Google aren't the only firms nosing around 3.5GHz either. In October, T-Mobile US Inc. 's CTO, Neville Ray, suggested that the service provider could look to use it as part of an unlicensed-LTE portfolio in 2018.
Now that the 600MHz auction is done, opening up 150MHz of shareable spectrum at 3.5GHz is the next major bandwidth event for the FCC. Exactly how this will be done -- and how long it will take -- is not clear yet.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading
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