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Google pilots Project Skybender as it looks to deliver experimental 5G internet from the skies


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

February 1, 2016 | 2 min read

Google has lifted the lid on its solution to global web access, a new 5G frequency that can deliver internet connectivity from an inflight drone.

Project Skybender is currently housed at the Gateway to Space terminal in New Mexico which was initially conceived for Virgin Galactic’s space ventures.

As part of the new tests, Google is looking to perfect high frequency millimetre waves which can, under optimal conditions, deliver gigabits of data each second – a mammoth forty times more than what is capable with 4G LTE.

Jacques Rudell, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Washington in Seattle told the Guardian: “The huge advantage of millimetre wave is access to new spectrum because the existing cellphone spectrum is overcrowded. It’s packed and there’s nowhere else to go.”

One limitation with the tech at the moment is that it has around a tenth the range of 4G signals, a caveat the company is looking to address.

At the moment the scheme is being tested on Google Titan’s solar-powered drone.

As part of Google X’s drone experimentation the company is also trialling drone deliveries in Project Wing, such news revealed that the company was experimenting with mobile signals in New Mexico.

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