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AT&T, Verizon have drones that restore cell service during disasters


While we might take for granted that our wireless provider's network is always up and running, there are times when forces out of their control happen, and these so-called "Acts of God" will result in service going down. Hurricanes usually result in outages that can take weeks to repair. The FCC says that 90% of cell sites in Puerto Rico were down following Hurricane Maria last year.

AT&T helped restore cell service to its customers and customers of competing wireless operators on the Island thanks to its use of a COW. No, AT&T didn't employ a Holstein and replace the bell around its neck with an antenna. COW actually is an acronym for Cellular On Wings. This is a drone used by the nation's second largest carrier to provide temporary cell service when there is a natural disaster-like a hurricane.

Verizon is in the process of testing a 200-pound gas-powered drone in Cape May County, New Jersey. The drone provides 4G LTE service to an area covering one mile. Verizon Network Vice President Michael Haberman says that first responders are interested in the drone since it quickly brings cell service to areas where coverage has been lost. While Verizon's drones are still being tested, Haberman says that they will be available for use later this year, if needed.

You can see what the drones look like and watch them in action by clicking on the video at the top of this article.

source: CNBC (1), (2)

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