AT&T is experimenting with drones to make its network better

AT&T has announced that it is currently experimenting with drones in order to make its network better. The carrier is currently using them for cell tower inspections and to gather real-time information, and in the future it may use them as flying towers for additional coverage. By being connected to its network, AT&T can use the drones to gather information and make immediate changes based on the needs that are being shown.

From the announcement (opens in new tab):

Connecting drones to our nationwide LTE network lets us capture data and feed it directly to our systems. In turn, this can allow us to make changes to our network in real time.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.

It is worth noting that drones don't offer great battery life currently, so fly time is rather limited. Also, odds are that people are not going to take well to a drone flying over their head at a concert, even if it means they can send that Snapchat or Instagram a little faster with the additional coverage. Either way, it will be interesting to see if AT&T can do anything of use with these drones in the future.

Jared DiPane

Jared started off writing about mobile phones back when BlackBerry ruled the market, and Windows Mobile was kinda cool. Now, with a family, mortgage and other responsibilities he has no choice but to look for the best deals, and he's here to share them with you.

  • Assistant drones or assassination drones?!
  • I really don't care they just need to push the firmware that allows double on my 950.
  • I came to say this, thanks.
  • I can see them using mini-blimps to augment coverage since the batteries become less of a concern.
  • Why does it feel like everyone's answer to everything is "drones?"
  • Comparitively speaking, they are cheap. For AT&T, the amount of money in wages from the time saved due to not having to climb the towers would pay for the drones in a few days. As for everyone else, don't know. I do like the car drone a company in China is working on. As the technology matures and gets more reliable, that could be where our flying cars come in.
  • there was a drone flying over us for the 4th of July fireworks and it didn't bother me.
  • Kind of funny to have read this headline on a day when my AT&T signal at my workplace was non-existent - the worst it's ever been.
  • Seriously? Am I missing something when it comes to all these "drones as networking" solutions? I can't imagine battery life ever being that great. I guess if there was solar power involved, maybe?
  • I posted this on the AC site as well: I've heard the blimp idea tossed around before for replacing towers, that it would lower the cost. I think a tethered blimp in more locations than current towers would be better than moving them around like a drone. Because really, how rapidly do populations centers (and thus heavy usage areas) really shift? However, my concerns with tether blimps is, what happens if they lose helium and land on someone/something? I think a low cost tower, that can actually flex, with a blimp attached to it would work well. Basically, helium (kept at pressure by a line from the ground through the tower) will support the equipment weight. And the tower will keep it relatively located, but flex with the wind, supply the helium and act as lightning grounding. If the blimp deflates for some reason, the tower would bend down and soften the landing, and keep it within a defined distance from the tower. It would keep it closer to the base (in use or during a fall) than a plain tether, at a similar or greater height. Basically think of a tall skinny tree when a bear climbs it, lol.
  • Or just an inflatable tower XD
  • Hey, whatever floats your metric-crap-ton of telecom equipment, lol
  • Like the article suggests, they need to use the drones in order to help boost their coverage because it is sorely lacking.