Google could be exploring the concept of a 4G network all its own, but there's one problem: The FCC appears to be dragging its feet on the LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) technology that Google would probably use.
A report from Business Korea is suggesting that Google could deploy its own LTE service in the 3.5GHz band using LTE-U and WiFi and connecting the network to the Internet using its own fiber. (See Tech Giants Team Up on 3.5GHz Initiative.)
Now this is a fine theory and all; we even know that Google has been testing 3.5GHz radios. Nonetheless, there are a few obstacles that could arise: (See Google Looks to Test 3.5GHz Broadband Radios.)
I think there's absolutely no doubt that Google wants to get deeper into wireless over the next couple of years. The question is: What's the smartest way to do it?
I suspect that intelligent software management of disparate elements -- fiber, WiFi, MVNO LTE, LTE-U, maybe even 5G eventually -- is probably the answer for Google, rather than a traditional network rollout. We know that Google has been looking for more people to help it develop heterogeneous networks (HetNets) recently. (See Google Could Stitch 5G Into HetNet Future.)
With some of Google's R&D focus already on 5G, it seems obvious that the search giant is thinking long-term with these sorts of issues. But I should point out that even when I joined LR Mobile -- back when it was Unstrung, in (OMG!) 2002 -- people were looking at WiFi and hopefully pointing out the possibility of using new tech to create an alternative kind of service provider. We'd probably call it an "alt-SP" these days! (See WiDeFi Repeats History.)
Despite the free availability of WiFi pretty much everywhere, it hasn't happened yet, and not for lack of trying. But hope springs eternal, and the availability of unlicensed spectrum in the 3.5GHz band and -- eventually -- a massive public band above 60GHz for 5G, gives interested parties some new bandwidth to play with in the US.
Anyway, it's not like I have all the answers here. I'm just trying to piece together what Google might do from its current actions.
Have a better idea? Let me know on the message board below.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading