This post originally appeared on https://consumerist.com/2016/10/06/verizon-joins-att-in-testing-drones-that-act-as-flying-lte-antennae/.
[Editor’s Note: The purpose of the trial held in Cape May, New Jersey, was to demonstrate how Verizon’s 4G LTE network could help first responders during disaster recovery efforts.]
There are certain times in every wireless company’s life when their network needs a boost, whether it’s because of a natural disaster or the pope’s in town. On the heels of AT&T’s announcement that it’s testing drones as flying LTE antennae, Verizon Wireless says it’s been doing basically the same thing, and has been working on it for the past few years.
Verizon announced that it’s running a trial today out of Cape May, NJ today with a high-altitude drone to show how the company’s 4G LTE network could “help first responders and emergency management personnel enhance disaster recovery efforts.”
The company previously held a controlled trial with a drone that has a 17-foot wingspan that tested advanced aerial inspection techniques. The company says these techniques can be applied to anything from inspecting rural pipeline to connecting customers nationwide to the LTE network when service is spotty.
“This latest trial demonstrated how emerging technology combined with wireless networks can improve safety and security,” said Mike Haberman, vice president, Network Operations, Verizon. “A nationwide reliable 4G LTE network is the foundation for the future of mobile IoT in the air.”
As we noted before, if drone-based LTE proves feasible, wireless companies might use the aerial devices to provide temporary service in areas where mobile cell towers — Cell on Wheels, or COWs — can’t be deployed easily. So when a wireless company needs to restore service after a natural disaster, the drones would be able to get into the air before bulky COWs could be trucked to the site.