Drones

Verizon trials drones as flying cell towers to plug holes in internet coverage

Verizon trials drones as flyin...
Verizon's recent trials involved an unmanned aircraft with a 17-foot (5.2 m) wingspan
Verizon's recent trials involved an unmanned aircraft with a 17-foot (5.2 m) wingspan
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Verizon recently teamed up with company American Aerospace Technologies to see how using drones as gliding cell towers could have an impact in disaster relief scenarios
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Verizon recently teamed up with company American Aerospace Technologies to see how using drones as gliding cell towers could have an impact in disaster relief scenarios
Verizon's recent trials involved an unmanned aircraft with a 17-foot (5.2 m) wingspan
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Verizon's recent trials involved an unmanned aircraft with a 17-foot (5.2 m) wingspan

Verizon has joined the likes of Facebook, Google and fellow telecommunications giant AT&T in exploring the potential of internet-connected unmanned aircraft. While its vision involves expanding 4G coverage across the US, it has an immediate focus on shoring up communications for first responders in emergency situations, and recently carried out trials to that effect.

Verizon has dubbed the initiative Airborne LTE Operations (ALO) and says it has actually been in the pipeline for around two years. The company has been working to integrate internet connectivity into unmanned aerial vehicles and hook them up to its 4G network, daisy chaining coverage and beaming it down to unconnected areas in the process. This is similar to how Facebook hopes its Aquila drones will work.

Verizon recently teamed up with company American Aerospace Technologies to see how using drones as gliding cell towers could have an impact in disaster relief scenarios. In a simulated mission in New Jersey, the team set a drone with a 17-foot (5.2 m) wingspan in flight to put the onboard technologies through their paces.

"We are testing a 'flying cell site' placed inside the drone to determine how we can provide wireless service in a weather-related emergency from the air," Verizon's Howie Waterman tells New Atlas. "This is the first such wireless network test in an emergency response simulation, leveraging our 4G LTE network."

Verizon recently teamed up with company American Aerospace Technologies to see how using drones as gliding cell towers could have an impact in disaster relief scenarios
Verizon recently teamed up with company American Aerospace Technologies to see how using drones as gliding cell towers could have an impact in disaster relief scenarios

Verizon says this is just one of a series of successful technical trials it has conducted around the country, involving both unmanned and manned aircraft. It imagines connected aerial vehicles eventually being used to image crops, carry out inspections of pipelines and high-voltage power lines, and monitor the physical extent of threats like wildfires and tornadoes.

As it stands for businesses in the US, you can't legally fly drones where you can't see them, but regulators say laws that will accommodate these types of applications are in the works. When and if that happens, Verizon says it will have a certification process whereby it will approve other businesses' drones to hook up to its flying 4G network and get in on the action.

Source: Verizon

2 comments
MarcStizzy
Come on, really? I could come up with plenty of better ideas that don't require flying small airplanes around. This is absurd, get more creative, or come talk to me.
ljaques
OK, I can see the need for immediate restoration of communications during/after crises, but as soon as one person got their phone lit, they'd call dozens of others who'd call dozens of others, etc. Verizon had better put up a plane over every several blocks or they'll be instantly overloaded. I would think that this money would be better spent installing long-term backup energy sources on each cell tower in place now.