Report details Google’s “Project Skybender,” a 5G Internet drone program
If a report from The Guardian is to be believed, Google has yet another Internet-in-the-sky program in the works. This one is called "Project Skybender" and aims to outfit drones with millimeter wave transceivers—radios that work in a slice of the spectrum that could be used in next-generation "5G" networks.
Apparently, Google currently has drones whizzing around the airspace of Spaceport America in New Mexico, where the project shares a hangar with Virgin Galactic. Currently, the drone hardware seems to be an "optionally piloted" commercial aircraft called the "Centaur," along with the solar-powered drones from Google Titan. Both aircraft are "plane like" drones with wings and front-facing propellers.
The report says that Google is using the drones to "experiment with millimeter-wave radio transmissions" and that the project "ultimately envisages thousands of high altitude 'self-flying aircraft' delivering Internet access around the world." The FCC has said that 5G millimeter wave networks could hit speeds between 1Gbps and 10Gbps. Currently engineers are working around natural distance and signal propagation issues inherent in the lower frequency. While millimeter-wave transceivers might eventually be integrated into a smartphone, Google is presently using several stationary antennas around Spaceport America.