AT&T has started using drones to inspect its cell towers that are difficult or too slow to reach by humans. The Operator also plans to leverage drones as flying machines that can temporarily provide enhanced 4G LTE wireless coverage at the packed venue. This week, the Operator reached another milestone by launching the trial phase of its national drone program.
John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President – AT&T Technology and Operations, in a blog post wrote, "By using drones to inspect a cell site, we’re able to conduct inspections more quickly and safely – and even access parts of a tower that a human simply could not. We anticipate this will allow us to improve our customers’ experience by enhancing our cell sites faster than ever before."
He highlighted the future use of drones, "We expect our experiences will lay the foundation for new, exciting drone applications. Possible uses include Flying COWs (Cell on Wings) providing LTE coverage at large events or even rapid disaster response. A Flying COW may even be able to provide coverage when a vehicle is unable to drive to a designated area."
AT&T said that it is researching how in-flight drones can use LTE network to send large amounts of data in real-time. This capability may benefit areas such as insurance, farming, facility and asset inspections, and even delivery service companies.
The Operator is also working with Intel to further its development work on drones. Both partners demoed the world's first LTE connected drone at the 2016 Mobile World Congress.