Google, Nokia & Qualcomm Racing Towards 3.5GHz

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

jamesjparker 2/8/2017 | 12:43:11 PM
Re: Google Wireless? The SAS manages & coordinates operations between the 3 tiers (Incumbent, PAL & GAA).

* Determine available frequencies at a location and assign them to Citizens Broadband Radio Service Devices (CBSD)
* Determine maximum permissible power level for CBSDs at a location
* Register and authenticate CBSDs
* Enforce Exclusion and Protection Zones
* Protect PALs from interference from other CBSD users
* Facilitate coordination between GAAs
* Ensure secure and reliable transmission of information between the SAS, Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) and CBSDs
* Protect Grandfathered Wireless Broadband Licensees
* Facilitate coordination and information exchange between SASs

Hope this helps!
R Clark 2/8/2017 | 10:39:32 AM
Re: Google Wireless? Oh sure they won't be building a network solo.  It will be with partners. I know they're already involved in several 3.5GHz trials, but I don't know who the other players are.

I am curious about the SAS function. Only Google and Federated Wireless are interested in building a SAS. Does it offer them much value, or is it just simply a spectrum server?

DanJones 2/7/2017 | 8:12:32 PM
Re: Google Wireless? Yeah, I've been talking to vendors that expect this will open up the operator market place some. Hence why I coined the term "alt-operator." I'm not 100% convinced yet though, we've been through these breakthrough concepts before -- remember Muni/mesh WiFi? I'll want to see more than talk to believe it.
R Clark 2/7/2017 | 8:05:04 PM
Re: Google Wireless? I've been chatting to a lot of wireless vendors recently who are all extremely interested in this, not just because they can sell more kit but because it breaks down entry barriers. 

If the trials pan out you'd expect Google to become some kind of service provider. But maybe the SAS servers will become such a point of differentiation that Google ends up becoming the enabler for CBRS.
DanJones 2/7/2017 | 3:26:47 PM
Google Wireless? So you think Google will actually do this? Deploy a network on 3.5GHz? Seems like a big step from where they are at now?

I wonder if they wouldn't just add 3.5GHz to Project Fi band support and let T-Mobile handle the RAN?


Or something else completely different?
Sign In