Google is building a giant radio transmitter in the desert, but no-one knows what it’s for.
The latest Google project was spotted by Hackaday, who came across a public Federal Communications Commission (FCC) document, filed on 23 February, which shows the company is applying for an experimental radio license.
The license relates to a planned project at Spaceport America, a rarely-used spaceport near the mysteriously-named city of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico, around 35 miles from the Mexican border.
The document doesn’t reveal too much about the shadowy project, since Google requested the details be kept from the public in order to protect their commercial interests.
However, it does say the planned transmitters will be used for “highly directional” and powerful transmissions, over a range of frequencies typically used for communications devices and wireless routers.
As Popular Mechanics notes, one of the transmitters is in the 70 to 80GHz range, a band which is often used for high-bandwidth communications. This transmitter is a huge 96.4 kilowatts, and Google wants it to be able to focus in very narrow directions.
Google won’t say what these massively powerful transmitters are for, but many speculate they’re either tied to Project Skybender, a secretive plan to beam high-speed 5G internet to the ground from flying drones, or Project Loon, an ongoing experiment in bringing internet to people in remote areas via a network of high-altitude balloons.
Alternatively, it could be an entirely new project altogether. Without sneaking into the spaceport, we might not know more until Google chooses to reveal some details.