Amazon Wants Government Permission to Test Experimental Wireless Communications Technology in Rural Washington and Seattle

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Amazon is preparing to test experimental wireless communications technology, including mobile devices and fixed-base stations, in rural Washington and Seattle, the company disclosed in government filings this week.

The filings do not specify what the tests would be for, but they hint at a new type of technology or wireless service, noting that the project would involve prototypes designed to support “innovative communications capabilities and functionalities.”

Even more intriguing is that Amazon listed Neil Woodward as the main contact on the filings. Woodward, a retired NASA astronaut who joined Amazon in 2008, is now a senior manager for Prime Air, the team in charge of Amazon’s drone-delivery effort, according to his LinkedIn page.

That suggests the tests could involve some kind of communications system to control Amazon’s delivery drones. But the details in the filings could also point to a wireless service designed to work with mobile handsets, such as Amazon’s Kindle tablets, or perhaps the Echo home speakers that Amazon sells.

All over the spectrum
The first tests would take place indoors at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters and would then expand outdoors, to around the company’s customer service facility in Kennewick, 220 miles from Seattle.

According to the documents, which Amazon filed with the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday, the tests would involve “low-power, temporary fixed-base transmitters and associated mobile units indoors at and near its company facilities in Seattle, Washington.”

Each location would feature three fixed transmitters and 10 mobile units, the documents show.

The testing would be limited to Amazon employees, and Amazon said it would retrieve and recover all devices that didn’t meet FCC regulations.

“The temporary base stations will typically transmit on average for only five minutes per hour per day per week on any specific channel or band,” the documents say.

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SOURCE: Business Insider, Eugene Kim