If AT&T has its way, you may never have to worry about your front-row concert video failing to upload to Snapchat. The carrier has a new plan to ensure you get service during packed events: drones.
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"Imagine you're at a concert watching your favorite band, and out of the corner of your eye you notice a tethered drone hovering nearby," AT&T Technology and Operations Chief Strategy Officer John Donovan wrote in a Wednesday blog post.
"But this drone isn't taking photos or videos of the band. It's temporarily providing enhanced LTE wireless coverage at the packed venue so you, along with thousands of others in attendance, can simultaneously send photos and videos to share the moment."
This is not yet a reality, but AT&T is working on it. For the past year, the company has been exploring and testing different ways to improve service with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles, and just kicked these efforts up a notch, launching the trail phase of its "national drone program."
AT&T already uses drones to inspect its cell towers from the air. Now, the company plans to connect these flying devices to its LTE network to capture even more data, which can be fed directly to its systems and used to make necessary changes in real time.
"By using drones to inspect a cell site, we're able to conduct inspections more quickly and safely — and even access parts of a tower that a human simply could not," Donovan wrote. "We anticipate this will allow us to improve our customers' experience by enhancing our cell sites faster than ever before."
And that's just the beginning. In the future, AT&T envisions using so-called "Flying Cell on Wings" to provide LTE coverage at large events, or in disaster-stricken areas impassible by vehicles. Donovan said the company is also researching how "in-flight drones can use [AT&T's] LTE network to send large amounts of data in real time" — something that might benefit those conducting insurance, farming, facility and asset inspections, and even delivery service companies.
AT&T isn't the only company experimenting with Internet drones. Word has it Google is secretly testing flying drones that would be able to use millimeter wave transmissions to give connected clients gigabit transmission speeds. Facebook, meanwhile, is testing a solar-powered drone designed to beam connectivity to areas without Internet.