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Google looking to 60GHz band for connectivity?

Web giant Google has been revealed to have acquired Seattle-based wireless tech startup Alpental Technologies in a somewhat mysterious transaction. It has emerged that the deal went through in May and Google has managed to pull most of the company information, including Alpental’s website, off the internet.

Formed by a couple of ex-Clearwire engineers, it is known however that Alpental specialises in wireless connectivity in the 60GHz and above band, which specifically covers millimetre wave. Whilst suitable for high bandwidth applications the concentration of the beam is so narrow that it is not useful for providing wide coverage.

It remains to be seen what Google will do with Alpental, but the company is looking at bringing connectivity to undeveloped markets through its Other Three Billion (O3b) and Project Loon initiatives.

Google began investing in O3b Networks, a satellite operator focusing on markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, back in 2008. And the 2013 unveiling of Project Loon, sees the company embarking on an ambitious project to provide wireless internet connectivity to hard to reach or extremely rural areas using helium-filled balloons.

Project Loon will see Google releasing specialised weather balloons into the stratosphere to float at around 20km above the Earth’s surface. The balloons are naturally moved around the Earth by winds and can be steered by elevating or descending to an altitude at which the winds are moving in the desired direction.

Moreover, all the vendors we spoke to for our recent feature on 5G acknowledged that frequencies in the 60GHz and higher bands would play a key role in 5G developments.

For example, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia and Samsung have all been selected to work on a 5G proof of concept system for NTT Docomo in Japan, using the 15GHz frequency band for the air interface as well as exploring the potential of millimeter wave technology in the 70GHz spectrum band.

 

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