Google has been secretly conducting tests in Nevada after getting permission from the US Federal Communications Commission to test its Loon balloons in the northern Nevada desert. The plan is to see if it can tap into licensed radio spectrum to broadcast Wi-Fi.
Project Loon is Google's attempt to bring Internet access to everyone on the globe via high-flying balloons. The company announced the project last June, explaining that the balloons are solar-powered, remote-controlled, and can navigate stratospheric winds 12 miles above the surface of the Earth -- far higher than most planes travel. Similar to the way satellite Internet works, the balloons can communicate with special antennas and receiver stations on the ground.
Loon has used the unlicensed 2.4GHz band for its Wi-Fi testing. But, according to FCC filings obtained by PCWorld, Google is testing two types of radio spectrum, along with a broad class signal that could possibly mean it's looking into using 4G LTE for Project Loon. Google has hoped for absolute secrecy in regards to its alleged new testing in Nevada. In its filing to the FCC, Google reportedly asked the government agency to keep the tests under wraps.
Google said that the technology is under development and highly sensitive and confidential in nature. Publicizing these tests would "jeopardize the value of the technology" and enable others to "use Google's information to develop similar products in a similar timeframe."
But there is another good reason. The desert is full of gun tooting rednecks who think that the government is spying on them. Already they showed up in force to see off government agents who were trying to stop a farmer from trespassing on government land. Hitting what they think is a government balloon would be a Sunday sport for them.