AT&T Deploys Drones To Improve Its Network

AT&T is planning to boost the LTE cell coverage at concerts and sporting events with the use of drones.

According to Forbes, after the legalizing of the commercial use of drones by FAA back in June, now businesses can start using drones for various applications. Since most events are viewed through a tiny screen on a tablet or smartphone, AT&T plans to use drones for enhancing the mobile phone signals at such events.

AT&T is already using drones for inspecting parts of its cell towers that are difficult or too slow to reach by humans. Now, the company will extend the use of drones by employing them at sporting events and concerts to improve the phone signals.

The drones to be used for this purpose are called Cell On Wings (COWs). According to Computerworld, a Flying Cell on Wings (COW) can be used not only to enhance LTE coverage at a large concert or sporting event but also in rapid disaster response. Such technology is able to offer wireless coverage when a vehicle is unable to drive to an area hit by a natural catastrophe.

John Donovan, chief strategy officer for AT&T explained some of these ideas in a blog this week. The blog post also includes a video showing drones already being deployed to inspect tall AT&T cell towers. An engineer in an office receives live video fed wirelessly by the inspection drones in order to perform remotely up-close inspections of components and cables high above the ground.

In a specific area, drones can also be connected to an LTE network in order to capture data for analysis through remote AT&T servers. If problems occur, this application can  allow for networking fixes in real time.

Art Pregler, drone program director for AT&T, said by using drones for inspection, the information tends to be more accurate than in the past. He also noted that robots and artificial intelligence evolve in parallel with advances in drone technology. All these technological advances are coming together in an exciting man-machine interaction.

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