Friday, December 22, 2017

"Flying COW" Helps Restore Cell Service in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is still in the process of recovering from Hurricane Maria's devastation to its electrical and communication infrastructure, and AT&T is using drone technology to provide temporary cell phone service in certain areas. 
Drone helicopter equipped with AT&T LTE cell site to
help restore cell service in Puerto Rico (AT&T photo)

You might be familiar with the term "COW" for a temporary "Cell on Wheels" network access site. In Puerto Rico, AT&T teamed up with drone-maker Vanu to create a "Cell on Wings" version of the COW. The phone giant installed an LTE cell site on one of Vanu's Pulse Vapor 55 drones, which looks and flies like a tiny helicopter, and has it hover 200 feet above the ground, according to AT&T. The company says it is the first-ever successful deployment of an LTE cell site on a drone. It was initially used in the San Juan are in early November, but the company planned to use it in other places as well. 

AT&T says flying COWs have a lot of potential for users of the "FirstNet" system it is developing for use by first responders in disasters.