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Google's Private Cell Phone Network (technologyreview.com)
46 points by FreeKill on Jan 26, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

It's really depressing to see 100+ media outlets go along for the ride on this story without doing a shred of independent thinking. This is smack inside LTE band 41, and part of the publicly announced clearwire shift from Wimax to TD-LTE. Sprint has established contracts for access to this space and has announced the lighting of the band this summer with handsets to follow in 3Q13. Clearly google wants to be able to test basebands, and nowhere in the world has the unique combination of band 41 TDD, FDD and CDMA2000 handoff requirements.

The story in the WSJ was just a placement - the analyst works for a firm representing some big clearwire stockholder that is just lobbying for a better price on the NTT/sprint buyout of clearwire.

Google would have to be fucking morons to build some sort of custom basestations and mobile devices smack ontop of license only spectrum thats been designated by the ITU-R.

Nobody is _paying_ for news, so why should they? With limited resources, is this where a news director would choose to focus?

This post is a summary of a WSJ which is mostly a summary of this blog post: http://stevencrowley.com/2013/01/23/googles-confidential-tes... It includes more technical information and less idle speculation.

The frequencies used are 2524-2546 and 2567-2625 MHz which are licensed to Clearwire but not (yet) widely used for anything.

> We don’t know yet exactly what Google is testing here. It might be devices it created. I suspect, though, that this is a test of a network architecture or service, using existing equipment. Google has been lobbying the FCC to approve the agency’s proposed shared-spectrum small-cell service in the 3550-3650 MHz band, and these test results might be relevant there.

I really like the "cell phone that connects to multiple networks" idea. Not just for the ability to make the cheapest call, but for the ability to make a call from anywhere that has reception from any provider.

I wonder if that could pave the way for boutique carriers that provide connectivity in hard-to-reach spots (say, the bottom story of a parking garage). The building owner could potentially take a cut on the phone fees the same way that building owners extract a fee from ATMs on their property.

It's called "roaming", and most modern phones support it. The "cheapest tower wins" roaming described in the article would be difficult to achieve because of the massive web of contracts required. Not to mention the terrible user experience -- most users DON'T want the cheapest possible connection, they want the one that won't drop their calls.

But what if it's voip and it can connect to multiple cheap towers simultaneously?

I am so glad google is doing this; I seriously thought we were going to have to wait for new regulation.

Then you're paying for a connection to each tower, which in aggregate is likely to be more expensive than a single connection to a reliable provider.

BTW that depends on who you consider users. It isn't relevant in the US but in many other countries a lot of users prefer dual SIM devices. The reason is usually precisely because of connection costs - which SIM to use is picked on a call by call basis.

It is hard to find current dropped call statistics but the random bits from random dates do show the US being worse off (~5+% versus < 2%).

I always lose my data connection because of this. I then have to go into options and select my network manually. Seems like if I do that it connects me to a stronger connection.

How about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_SIM?

I have heard that they are working on phones with 4 SIMS as well (in Brasil, where you can get one kind of connection in one village, and another kind in the next, and no roaming).

Agree that would be cool, but I don't think it has anything to do with this test network. Technology Review's speculation based on an old patent is IMHO wishful thinking.

>...offering the flagship Nexus One smartphone online and unlocked. That experiment lasted only about six months, after Google struggled to cope with customer service requests and learned that U.S. consumers are apparently happier paying a significant markup for a device over two years than a smaller sum upfront.

Google learnt what? Then why is the Nexus 4 sold out?

We know that there are more people willing to pay between $300 and $350 than Google/LG produced. We just don't know how many phones Google/LG has produced. If the supply of Nexus 4's were anywhere similar to the number of Samsung Galaxy S2's or S3's, then I would strongly agree with you.

The Nexus 4 was a huge disaster, but it did prove that people are very interested in a no-carrier subsidy device at those prices. Whether Google is willing to get it's act together and provide decent customer service is another matter.

Because unlocked and unsubsidized it cost not that much more than prior phones of its quality cost subsidized. It hit the "magic window of what people are willing to pay for a smartphone", which previous smartphones (Apple and Android) could only reach with a subsidy.

Does anyone know what bands they're talking about? What's the theoretical max bandwidth on these new frequencies?

I'm guessing that since Google pushed so hard in the white space auctions of years past that they would use those bands.

Appears to be Clearwire LTE service

2524-2546 and 2567-2625 MHz; the entire band has about 500 Mbps of capacity.

Another story claimed that these were the buildings that the google fibre team works out of, and there wasn't anything android related in these buildings. Anybody with more knowledge than some random blog care to comment?

The article calls it the west end of campus and shows buildings in the 12xx range. Given the main address is 1600, and those addresses go up as you go west, how does that work, exactly?

Given that, I wouldn't read too much into any geographic claims in this article.

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