AT&T can now deliver 5G using a drone
AT&T has been known to push the limits of what is possible, delivering its wireless service to places unimaginable using its Flying Cell on Wings (COW). In April, the wireless carrier took to a nondescript field in rural Missouri to unleash a drone equipped with 5G service. AT&T claims that this event is an industry first, delivering speedy 5G wireless service in a location that was so remote that it had no trees, no homes, or humans.
5G for cows from COWs?
So what was the purpose of AT&T’s experiment? Was it to provide 5G wireless service to the cows? Of course not. Prior to the drone being unleashed with its 5G wireless service, the area was covered with weak LTE service. In the event of an emergency or rescue scenario, deploying a Flying COW could have a tremendous impact, giving first responders and others lightning-fast connections in a matter of seconds.
AT&T has been using flying COWs for years, providing wireless services to those in need. Its first documented experiment was in 2017, where it performed a similar experiment to the one carried out in April 2022. The drone is connected to a fiber data line that provides a secure connection and also power. The drone carries a small cell and antennas, which can be used to broadcast data. Once operational, the drone can provide coverage of up to 10 square miles. Of course, the range will vary depending on the terrain in the surrounding area.
So what does this mean for the future? AT&T is quite ambitious in its take, stating that it would like to fly drones autonomously for months on end without tethers. It would accomplish this by using solar power. This could one day provide wireless service to areas where it is currently not possible to reach using traditional methods. For now, Flying COWs can be used by AT&T’s disaster recovery teams during a crisis, or by search and rescue teams in need of connectivity. But it’s also a peek into what could be a neat future.