drone1AT&T is getting serious about drones for LTE, which the company anticipates making part of its telecom infrastructure in the future. The company this week launched the AT&T Drone Program aimed at exploring how drones could benefit the company and its customers.

“Possible uses include Flying COWs (Cells on Wings) providing LTE coverage at large events or even rapid disaster response,” wrote John Donovan, AT&T Chief Strategy Officer and Group President of AT&T Technology and Operations, in a blog post.

AT&T Drones for LTE Program
AT&T already is using drones to inspect cellsites, enabling the company to conduct inspections more quickly and safely, including areas of the cellsite that were previously out of reach to humans, Donovan noted.

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Donovan also noted that AT&T is researching how in-flight drones can use the company’s LTE network to send large amounts of data in real time, which could be of interest to insurance companies, farmers, facility and asset inspectors and delivery service companies.

That capability sounds similar to what Verizon already is experimenting with. Late last year Verizon said it was working with a vineyard to use drones to enhance agriculture – and although Verizon declined to provide details, it would appear that cellular connectivity was used to communicate information to and from the drones.

Donovan promised a demonstration of drone cellsite inspection for attendees at AT&T’s Shape event in San Francisco this week.

Image courtesy of flickr user Richard Unten.

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