Drone-based solutions are helping AT&T maintain and enhance our network to more quickly and safely deliver an outstanding wireless experience.
AT&T has spent the last two years exploring and testing different ways drones can benefit our customers. We’ve found that drones can be used to inspect cell towers, distribution lines and other facilities that keep consumers connected efficiently and safely.
A drone can often go where humans cannot and provide clear, wide-angle and bird’s eye views of the facilities that keep consumers connected.
Our nationwide LTE network enables our engineers to access these views in real-time, which we expect will allow us to enhance cell sites faster than ever before and improve overall network performance for our customers.
Drones can also increase workplace safety by reducing the need to climb towers, poles and other structures while performing the work that is necessary to keep consumers connected.
Flying COWs (Cell Tower on Wings)
The sky is truly the limit when it comes to the use of drones on our network. The Flying COW– or Cell Tower on Wings – is an exciting next step in how AT&T plans to use drones to bring strong wireless connectivity to those who need it most. A Flying COW functions like a cell site on a drone which, once airborne, is designed to provide LTE wireless coverage from the sky to a designated area on the ground.
When COWs FLY: The Sky is the Limit
In the future, Flying COWs may serve as a potential solution for providing wireless coverage in emergency situations requiring rapid response or to enhance network coverage during large events.
AT&T’s drone team recently completed what we believe is an industry first: a successful live test flight of a Flying COW transmitting and receiving high speed data above a field outside Atlanta.
In the future, it may be used to provide coverage to emergency responders when a traditional COW could not – like in the wake of a natural disaster involving flooding or in areas of rough terrain.
We’ll also look to develop Flying COWs to enhance coverage at big events like music festivals and sporting events and to test for and help resolve connectivity issues in nearly real time to help provide an outstanding wireless experience for consumers.
How We’re Using Drones to Make Cell Tower Inspections Safer
AT&T is leading the way in the commercial use of drones within the telecommunications industry. We’ve spent more than two years exploring different ways drones can benefit our customers and help us run the network. This drone research has enabled us to begin using drones for cell tower inspections.
Drones can increase workplace safety by reducing the need to climb towers, poles, and other structures while performing the work that is necessary to keep consumers connected.
A drone enables cell tower inspectors to identify what network updates or repairs on the tower needs to be completed, before a crew is put into the air.
Drones prepare tower technicians to have the right tools they need before they leave the ground, whereas previously they would have to guess what tools to carry with them up to the tower repair site.