Google is testing its own wireless network to prepare for the Federal Communication Commission's 700 MHz spectrum auction in January, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter.
Using a test license from the FCC, the search company is running mobile phones with its Android software on the network. The idea is that if the company bids on and secures wireless spectrum, it will have an idea of how to use it.
I'd love to be a fly on that lab wall, but what in the name of sweet hubris is going on?
Building a wireless network in your laboratory is a feat of its own. Deploying it and building it out by populating it with millions of subscribers is a different deal. Many have tried; many have failed.
To be fair, many have tried to partner and still failed. See the recent Sprint-Clearwire WiMax collapse. So, there is no silver bullet.
I have been writing for the past couple weeks about the ways Google will get into wireless. My sources have all been pretty consistent: Google won't build its own wireless network, but will partner with a carrier of some sort.
All signs pointed to Google getting in bed with Sprint or Clearwire. The WSJ touches on the possibility that Google will partner or invest in some wireless entity, specifically noting Clearwire, but not Sprint.
Despite the WSJ find that the company is testing its network, I still believe Google will solicit help from some external sources. Unless the company hired a lot of wireless experts on the down-low, it is not exactly flush with carrier-hardened talent.
Unless the company has a new way to go at wireless in mind, some magic pixie dust to sprinkle on this alleged network, I doubt it will try to do this itself. Then again, most folks didn't think Google would have the stones to build an entire mobile operating stack. Hello, Android.
So, alone or with allies, Google will take a hard charge at the wireless market to fatten up on what is supposedly the next big advertising pie.
With a wireless network, Google could fashion a smorgasbord of new advertising opportunities by targeting millions of users with new content and services through mobile phones.