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Amazon wants to test mobile broadband devices

Motorola CBRS application
Motorola is already experimenting with CBRS technology, which could be applied to broadband workplace communications. Now Amazon wants to test CBRS systems as well. (Motorola Photo)

Amazon is seeking the Federal Communications Commission’s approval for a six-month test of mobile radio devices and networking software – but not at its Seattle home base.

The experiment with Citizens Broadband Radio Service, or CBRS, would take place in Sunnyvale, Calif. That’s the Silicon Valley city where Amazon’s Lab126 product development subsidiary is headquartered. Lab126 played a key role in creating devices such as Amazon’s Kindle ebook readers and Kindle Fire tablets (as well as the not-so-successful Kindle Fire phones).

CBRS uses a slice of the electromagnetic spectrum that was originally set aside for U.S. government communications. Four years ago, the FCC began a process to open up the spectrum – ranging from 3550 to 3700 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band – for sharing with commercial users for wireless broadband applications.

The CBRS band is expected to be easier to use than other parts of the spectrum. It could enable local data transmission at speeds that are better than Wi-Fi, and should play well with 5G.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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