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Amazon’s Doppler building, at right, would be one location for testing the new communications system, according to the FCC filing. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

A cryptic filing with the Federal Communications Commission reveals a plan by Amazon to test a new wireless communications system at its downtown Seattle headquarters and in rural Washington state.

“Amazon seeks FCC experimental authority to evaluate prototype equipment and associated software designed to support innovative communications capabilities and functionalities,” reads the application for FCC Special Temporary Authority.

The filing does not disclose the precise nature of the project. However, Business Insider, which broke the story, points out that the Amazon contact on the filing is Neil Woodward, a former NASA astronaut who is now senior manager for flight test and certification for Amazon Prime Air. That suggests the project is related to wireless communications for the company’s delivery drone initiative.

A diagram from Amazon’s FCC application.

In its FCC application, Amazon says it “proposes initially to operate a limited number of low power, temporary fixed base transmitters and associated mobile units indoors at and near its company facilities in Seattle, Washington. Additional tests would be conducted outdoors at a remote, rural location near its facilities at Kennewick, Washington.”

Amazon is asking the FCC for a five-month authorization for the testing. The company “seeks to collect sufficient data within that time frame to assess the performance and reliability characteristics of prototype equipment and software to determine if additional research is needed and should be scheduled,” the application says.

Amazon recently started making its first drone package deliveries in the UK, but Federal Aviation Administration regulations have limited the tech giant’s ability to conduct testing in its home country. In its patent applications, the company has hinted at futuristic ideas including a “collective UAV” that would combine a large group of drones to deliver heavier items.

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