Out with Infrastructure? Google Fiber may become entirely wireless in the future

google fiber louisville hybrid launch googlefiber 01
In the future, Google Fiber may become less reliant on its namesake infrastructure than airborne alternatives. A new FCC filing by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, laid out the Cupertino, California-based company’s plan to begin testing internet-disseminating radios in regions around the country.

Much in the documents has been redacted, but the portions that aren’t divulge a few specifics. Google intends to test “experimental transmitters” on a gigahertz frequency — specifically between the bands of 3,400 MHz and 3,800 MHz. And it’s seeking the FCC’s approval to deploy the tech in up to 24 U.S. metropolitan areas.

The lucky cities are an equitable mix of metros with and without wireline Fiber installations. The former include stalwarts like Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah. The others on the tentative list are uncharted territory: Atwater, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Bruno, San Francisco, and San Jose, in California; Boulder, Colorado; Omaha, Nebraska; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Reston, Virginia.

Google’s been testing wireless technology in Kansas City, the first city to receive Fiber service, for the past several weeks, the documents revealed.

It’s not exactly Fiber’s first big move away from wireline. In June, the Google subsidiary signed a deal to acquire Webpass, a 13-year-old high-speed internet provider with a presence in parts of San Francisco, San Diego, and Oakland. Wireless, not coincidentally, is the firm’s bread and butter. Webpass subscribers in Miami, Boston, and elsewhere receive speeds ranging from 100Mbps to 1Gbps for $60 a month.

Google executives have spoken relatively candidly about the potential of a mostly wireless Fiber. At Alphabet’s quarterly shareholder meeting in June, Chairman Eric Schmidt spoke about the company’s exploratory steps toward fiber-optic alternatives — specifically, radios capable of transmitting internet traffic at “gigabit per second” speed. And in an interview with Recode earlier this year, Craig Barrat, a senior vice president at Alphabet who oversees Google’s connectivity efforts, said the company would consider rolling out wireless solutions to rural and “lower-density” regions of the country where fiber was cost-prohibitive.

“We are experimenting with a number of different wireless technologies,” Barrat told Recode. “One of the things that is intriguing about wireless is that it allows you to reach houses and users that are in [settings] where fiber becomes too expensive. We’re trying to figure out how to remove barriers that prevent consumer choice.”

But Google faces an uphill technological climb. Its wireless choice of medium in question, millimeter wave technology, is limited in range and affected by both inclement weather and physical obstacles. And it relies on strategic equipment placement, frequently on the tops of “high buildings” and outside the windows of would-be customers’ homes. But the cost savings associated with wireless trump the logistical challenges, Barrat told Recode. Perhaps more importantly, unlike fiber wire, it doesn’t require access to utility poles and switching stations owned by sometimes uncooperative internet service providers.

The FCC filing comes on the heels of Google’s decision to halt the rollout of Fiber in the California cities of San Jose, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and Palo Alto. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the company has instituted a moratorium on fiber expansions until it has a chance to “reassess the technology” and “explore a cheaper alternative” — i.e., wireless service “that does not require expensive, capital-intensive, and time-consuming installation of fiber cables under the ground.”

Google’s not the only company to attempting to build a gigabit wireless network from scratch. Starry, a startup founded by former Aereo chief Chet Kanoji, has plans to test a millimeter wave system operating on the 38 GHz band in Boston.

Emerging Tech

Leafy greens are grown by machines at new, automated Silicon Valley farm

Farming hasn't changed too much for hundreds of years. Now a new startup called Iron Ox has opened its first automated hydroponics farm, producing a variety of leafy greens tended by machines.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.

Google brings back its pop-up shops to show off its new lineup of products

To show off its slew of new products, Google will open up pop-up shops in New York and Chicago starting October 18. The company also introduced a customer service and delivery program, along with a partnership with tech retailer, "b8ta."

Montblanc’s $995 Summit 2 watch stays on your wrist for longer between charges

Montblanc has taken the wraps off of the new Montblanc Summit 2 -- the first watch to feature the new Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor. The watch features a premium design and Google's Wear OS.

Preapproval for iPhone Upgrade Program now available for iPhone XR

Apple took the wraps off of its new set of iPhones, including the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the new iPhone XR. The iPhone XR is being offered as the "affordable" iPhone, and it's a little different than the more expensive models.
Product Review

The Huawei Watch GT’s battery life gets a tick, but the software may not tock

Huawei’s track record with smartwatches is strong, having releases two models and several spin-offs to general acclaim. This is the Watch GT, and it moves away from Google’s Wear OS to focus on fitness, yet stays ahead of the…

Double your charging speed with Nomad’s Tesla Model 3 wireless charger

Nomad's wireless charger for the Tesla Model 3 fits the EV's charging dock exactly. If you plug both of the Nomad's into the Model 3's two front USB ports you can charge two smartphones quickly or one phone twice as fast.

Google Pixel 3 vs. Apple iPhone XS: Does Google’s A.I. take down Apple?

The Google Pixel 3 is here, boasting top-tier specs like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 4GB of RAM, and some of the world's best artificial intelligence features on a phone. But can it take out the Apple iPhone XS?

Hinge's new feature wants to know who you've gone out on dates with

With its new "We Met" feature, Hinge wants to learn how your dates are going with matches in its app. That way, it can inject the information into its algorithm to provide future recommendations that better suit its users' preferences.

Which Verizon plan is best for you? We check out family, individual, and prepaid

Verizon offers lots of plans for individuals, your family, and folks who want prepaid service. Here is everything you need to know about Verizon's plans, from data packages and smartphones to Big Red's prepaid plans.
Product Review

If Huawei sells the Mate 20 Pro in the U.S., Samsung needs to watch its back

Huawei knocked it out of the park with the P20 Pro earlier this year, and it’s looking to do the same again with the Mate 20 Pro. The Mate series has traditionally been sold in the U.S., so will Americans finally be able to get a taste?
Product Review

You’d be crazy to dismiss the Huawei Mate 20 as an amateur

Traditionally, Huawei’s Mate series of phones has been a little staid. That started to change with the Mate 10 Pro, and now both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro have come along to turn our heads. Here’s a look at the standard Mate 20.

Mate 20 range now includes new 20 X model with huge 7.2-inch display

Huawei has released the Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, and Mate 20 X. With all new Kirin processors, advanced A.I. brains, and an amazing triple camera, here's absolutely everything you need to know about the new Mate 20 series.