There are a myriad of reasons why a cell site can stop working, and as our reliance in mobile technology continues to increase, availability is becoming a critical issue. With smartphones now playing an integral role in our personal and professional lives, service providers are looking at innovative technologies to continue supplying services in the event a cell site goes down. For Verizon, it means the continuation of its LTE (News - Alert)-by-Drone program, which it started last year to continue providing next generation communications services for its customers.
This program was initiated by Verizon (News - Alert)'s network team to develop the technology for in-flight LTE operations starting in 2014 and continuing through 2015 before the first flight took place in October 2016. At the time Verizon made the announcement, this was part of its strategy to integrate widespread adoption for in-flight wireless connectivity through its Airborne LTE Operations (ALO) initiative.
Using a combination of manned and unmanned aircraft on Verizon's 4G LTE network, successful completion of technical trials in multiple locations across the country were carried out. For Verizon, it meant being able to introduce next generation communications services such as helping first responders and emergency management personnel with improved disaster recovery efforts and launching a new suite of services on Verizon's ThingSpace Internet of Things (IoT) platform.
As reported by unmannedsystemstechnology.com, this time around the flight was carried out with a long endurance drone on April 5 at Woodbine Municipal Airport in Woodbine, N.J. The test had several different parameters, one of which was to simulate an indefinite commercial power outage after some sort of disaster that was responsible for interrupting traditional communication services.
The drone, which provides a flying cell site was able to take off after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to Cape May County which will also include an emergency exercise in May that will bring local, state and federal emergency responders to test out the drone in real-life scenarios. The COA gave the drone an area of 800 square miles of airspace up to 7,000 feet.
“This new test builds upon our leadership in conducting the first successful demonstration in the U.S. for providing aerial coverage from a long-endurance medium altitude aircraft with AATI in Cape May last October,” said Verizon’s Christopher Desmond as quoted by Unmanned System Technology.
The unmanned aircraft system (UAS), called the RS-20, has a 17-foot wing span and it was piloted by American Aerospace Technologies, Inc. (AATI). The CEO of AATI, David Yoel, told Unmanned System Technology the goal of the test was to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technology in providing communications to improve safety and effectiveness in extreme emergency situations.
The technology could also see other applications as drone technology improves and the IoT sees wider adoption to deliver next-generation communication services for real-time event reporting with live-stream, surveying, security and more.
Edited by Alicia Young