With a growing list of companies taking to the skies to provide internet services in hard to reach areas, Verizon has flown a test drone in the United States to prove their concept as well. Good on them for having an immediate goal of providing services to first responders in emergency situations.
The recent trials focused on emergency flight and 4G delivery, presumably in poor weather conditions around a simulated emergency.
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In the long run, don’t be fooled, the goal is to use drones to provide 4G connectivity across the US regardless if an emergency or not. This, again, parallels what the likes of Google and Facebook are attempting in emerging markets around the globe. Google has balloons, however, while Facebook is also using drones, or otherwise titled unmanned aircraft.
The Verizon drone is a part of the Airborne LTE Operations (ALO) as it is being called, which is said to have been in the works for around two years now. The craft itself measures 17 feet across and was built by American Aerospace Technologies.
The flying cell site was placed inside the drone, and up it went. Similar manned and unmanned tests have taken place already, in the hopes of one day providing aerial images of crops, inspection of power lines and pipelines and keep an eye on things like fires and floods.
Certification is the major deterrent to projects like this, at least in the United States. Despite the limitations on these new forms of flight, AT&T has also flown a few drone test flights themselves. Those limitations require that all unmanned aircraft remain visible to the pilot. That goes for most of you at home as well, technically, your drone must remain within sight while in flight. The moment these restrictions are lifted for businesses like Verizon, Google and Facebook, watch the skies, this could get entertaining.
What do you say, should there be immediate freedom for telcos to fly a cell phone connection into emergency stricken areas?