Google is working on something outlandish in the middle of New Mexico, according to recently filed FCC documents. The documents, first discovered by HackADay, show that Google is currently testing a 100KW radio transmitter at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Many of the details in Google’s filing with the FCC have been redacted, with the company wanting the information treated as confidential. Nevertheless, there are a few details that we can extract. For one, the experiments involve high power transitions at 2.5 GHz, 5.8GHz, 24GHz, 71-76GHz, and 81-86GHz. The first few levels are common in things like household routers, but, that 80GHz transmitter carries an effect radiated power of 96,411W, which is the maximum effective rated power used by FM stations in the United States.

The difference between Google’s testing and radio stations, however, is that Google is using high gain antennas that have a beam width of less than half a degree. Radio stations, on the other hand, use omnidirectional waves.

To test the transmitter, Google is using an experiment radio call sign WI9XZE, but that doesn’t show up in the FCC database. Google also promises that it won’t cause interference with other radio experiments in its testing.

It’s really anyone’s best guess as to what Google is doing testing a 100KW transmitter in the middle of New Mexico. Many have speculated that the efforts might be related to Google’s Project SkyBender. This effort centers around using drones to deliver 5G data speeds to users via millimeter-wave radio transmissions. Another possibility is the company’s Project Loon, which aims to provide LTE internet to rural areas via high altitude balloons. We’ll just have to wait and see if Google ever confirms its plans, or if we’re left to keep guess.

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About the Author

Chance Miller


Chance currently writes for both 9to5Google and 9to5Mac, in addition to 9to5Toys.