ATTs answer to poor coverage at large events is Flying COWs

first_imgAnyplace large numbers of people gather, mobile service is sure to deteriorate. Carriers design their networks with a normal distribution of people in mind. If tens of thousands of smartphones congregate in one area, the congestion can grind everything to a halt. Temporary cell towers have been used at large events in the past, but AT&T thinks it has a better idea — drones with tiny cell towers attached.AT&T says it is experimenting with using drones at crowded venues like concerts and sporting events to supplement its LTE coverage. It calls these devices Flying COWs where “COW” stands for “Cell on Wings.” Presumably they could not come up with an acronym that spelled “PIG,” which would have been much funnier.A DJI drone, like the ones AT&T uses for cell tower inspection.The Flying COWs would not be entirely mobile. They would be tethered to the ground to ensure they don’t veer off course. This also provides a way to connect the drones to a wired data network to power its wireless signal. Being up in the air allows for better coverage of a crowded area, and it’s much faster than setting up a temporary cell tower. In addition to improving service at the next baseball game, AT&T envisions Flying COWs taking off in the event of a natural disaster when standard cellular infrastructure could be damaged.The FAA recently started issuing licenses for commercial drone operation. AT&T already uses drones to inspect cell towers. Like those drones, Flying COWs would need to remain in visual range of the human operator to be legal under the FAA’s current rules. AT&T is still in the early phases of this plan, but dont’ be surprised if you see a hovering drone at the local stadium soon.last_img