Verizon is testing 4G LTE-connected drones as emergency cell service providers
Over the past two years, U.S. carrier Verizon has been at work on the so-called Airborne LTE Operations project, which is about experimenting with implementing 4G LTE wireless connectivity in manned and unmanned aircraft – such as drones.
Now, Verizon has announced its goal is to use cellular-connected drones for providing mobile connection during emergency situations when relying on cellular towers isn't an option.
A disaster like the 2012 Hurricane Sandy, for example, rendered around 25% of cell phone towers in 10 states damaged or unusable. Verizon has partnered up with American Aerospace Technologies Inc. to test connectivity between aircraft and the carrier's 4G LTE network. The two are using a drone with a mighty 17-foot wingspan to accomplish their goal.
Additionally, the drones could be used with communications apps to survey trouble zones in an emergency, safely monitor high-voltage lines and pipelines, and keep an eye on crops. Verizon is looking to officially launch the program in 2017.