The Internet giant has asked the Federal Communications Commission for a license to test experimental radios that use wireless spectrum in the millimeter bandwidth in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico, according to heavily redacted documents filed with the FCC and uncovered by Business Insider. The documents do not mention Project Loon by name.
Alphabet did not respond to a request for comment.
Project Loon comes out of the secretive Google X laboratory for experimental projects such as driverless cars that is run by Alphabet. Project Loon’s balloons circle the earth at altitudes twice as high as commercial aircraft, helping mobile operators extend wireless networks into more sparsely populated or remote terrains without running fiber optic cable or building cell towers.
Project Loon announced in October that it was teaming up with Indonesia’s three largest wireless carriers in 2016 to test the balloons in the world’s fourth most populous country, where two-thirds of the citizens don’t have Internet access.
Technology investor and former Google employee Chris Sacca said his team at Google “played around with this.”
“Consider how much of the US still has zero data access,” he said on Twitter. “Worthy project.”