AT&T is utilizing an LTE-equipped drone to reconnect some Puerto Ricans who misplaced wi-fi service after Hurricane Maria.
This clearly is not a everlasting repair for Puerto Rico, the place 48 % of cell websites are nonetheless out of service greater than a month after the hurricane wrecked telecom infrastructure on the island. But the drone—AT&T calls it a Flying COW (Cell on Wings)—is offering wi-fi connectivity in an space of as much as 40 sq. miles.
“As we work to permanently restore our network, this experimental technology is providing data, voice, and text services to customers,” AT&T stated in an announcement in the present day. “This is the first time an LTE cell site on a drone has been successfully deployed to connect residents after a disaster.”
Hovering 200 ft above the bottom, the drone “can extend coverage farther than other temporary cell sites,” making it supreme for offering service in distant areas, AT&T stated. The drone is deployed within the San Juan space proper now, however AT&T stated it is going to quickly be relocated “to support additional areas, including the military hospital at Manati Coliseum.”
AT&T started utilizing drones final yr to examine cell towers, and the corporate says they may very well be used to spice up community protection at mbadive occasions.
More drones in testing
AT&T has just one such system in operation now, however the firm advised Ars that it’s “testing additional drone models to add to the fleet.” One Flying COW can present protection to as much as eight,000 folks concurrently, relying on tools and community elements, AT&T advised Ars. The drone is 7.5 ft in diameter and might keep within the air for an “extended amount of time,” AT&T stated.
LTE drones “hold a lot of potential” for FirstNet, the nationwide public security community that AT&T is constructing below a contract with the federal authorities. Besides briefly connecting folks on Puerto Rico, AT&T stated the drone utilization will badist the corporate “badess how first responders can use the drone in the future.”
More than 30 % of Puerto Ricans nonetheless lack service, however AT&T stated its “teams are working around the clock to restore our network.”
The drone is only one of some applied sciences AT&T is utilizing for short-term connectivity in Puerto Rico. For instance, the corporate is utilizing transportable satellite tv for pc items on the bases of cell towers in areas the place fiber traces linked to the towers have not but been repaired.
The telecomm large can be collaborating with Alphabet, which is utilizing its balloon-powered community to offer emergency mobile service in Puerto Rico. AT&T has extra particulars on its hurricane restoration efforts on this web page.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai visited Puerto Rico this previous weekend to evaluate hurricane restoration efforts. Pai has been below stress from Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who says the FCC ought to maintain hearings on the restoration from storms in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico and make a plan to make sure that “communities with damaged communications are not permanently relegated to the wrong side of the digital divide.”