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Google building secret wireless network, says it involves 'highly competitive consumer electronics'

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Rumors have been swirling for months that Google has big wireless plans, possibly including a partnership with Dish, which hasn't been shy about telegraphing its intentions to build a cellular LTE network. Now, the pieces may be falling into place: Google is planning to build a secret wireless network on its Mountain View campus.

According to FCC filings spotted by wireless engineer Steven Crowley, it's a pretty hefty test: Google says it will use up to 50 base stations and 200 "user devices" (perhaps Android smartphones?) during the experimental period. Intriguingly, the temporary wireless network will operate in two narrow slivers of the 2.5GHz frequency band, which just so happens to be the territory of Clearwire — the same Clearwire which Dish is trying to purchase.

Now, Google's no stranger to crazy experiments, and not all of them will necessarily change the world: for every self-driving car and wearable display, there's an army of employees working on personal engineering projects. But it doesn't sound like that's what's happening here. When Google's lawyers sought to have parts of the FCC filing redacted, their argument was this: "The information for which confidential treatment is sought concerns the highly competitive consumer electronics market." Italics added for emphasis.

Both Google and Clearwire declined to comment to The Wall Street Journal.