Google’s Project Loon has expanded its testing in the Nevada desert. It is, allegedly for the very first time, delving into the licensed radio spectrum. Google themselves have declined to comment on the secret trials, but a local official has confirmed they are related to Project Loon, and recent government filings are pointing to numerous recent balloon launches.

The Loon project is a great but ambitious attempt by Google to bring Internet access to vast areas of our planet, which currently have no or very little Internet connectivity. The interesting project was unveiled back in June last year and Google reported at the time that it was experimenting with balloons that would fly around 20 kilometres (65,000 feet) above the Earth, using radio links in an unlicensed portion of the spectrum at around the 2.4GHz frequency.


Only a few months later, in late September, the head network engineer for Loon, Cyrus Behroozi, applied to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for their permission to test Project Loon across a large portion of the Nevada desert.  The testing was to incorporate two parts of the radio spectrum that are used as a pair for 4G LTE services.

The application made by Google did not state exactly which wireless technology it planned to use, but it did however, disclose the broad type of signal, the class that includes LTE. This information coupled with the use of paired spectrum, does point to the probability of LTE.  In the application to the FCC, Google did ask that details of the proposed tests be kept secret for competitive reasons.  “The technology is under development and highly sensitive and confidential in nature…The release of such information would provide valuable insight into Google’s technology innovations and potential business plans and strategies,” Google wrote to the FCC.  Google added that disclosing the tests would “ jeopardize the value of the technology” and enable others to “utilize Google’s information to develop similar products in a similar timeframe.”

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[Image via telecoms]