Yesterday, Louis CK and a handful of other comedians held a standup show at the NRG Arena in Houston. Traffic stalled the show as hundreds of fans arrived late, but those who were already in their seats were delighted to discover that they were within comfortable range of a nearby lure-upgraded PokeStop. Alas, the surge of LTE traffic coupled with Pokemon Go’s already buggy server issues meant that Pokemon Masters in the arena went without collecting anywhere near as many pokeballs as they had hoped. AT&T wants to make sure that never happens again, and they want to use drones to get it done.
In an announcement today, AT&T painted a curious picture. “Imagine you’re at a concert watching your favorite band,” writes John Donovan, chief strategy officer for AT&T Technology and Operations, “and out of the corner of your eye you notice a tethered drone hovering nearby.” While some might suspect that this drone is present to capture footage of the show, AT&T has a different goal in mind. They want to use these kinds of drones to temporarily boost LTE wireless coverage.
These particular little drones are called Flying COWs (Cell on Wings), and they are just part of a widespread initiative that AT&T has kicked off that involves extensive and creative use of drones to improve their network in a variety of ways.
The company has revealed that they have entered the trial phase of this national drone program. Their team boasts decades of history in the fields of military, flight control, and tech experience. LTE augmentation isn’t their only ambition with drones. The team is also using them to remotely inspect cell towers and detect spotty service, allowing them to adjust their networks in real time.
The carrier has revealed that they will be making further announcements regarding this drone program at their SHAPE Conference in San Francisco later this week. The event will also include a live demonstration of their drone technology. While we wait for more details regarding AT&T’s drone implementation, let us know what you think of it in the comments below!