As part of its Airborne LTE Operations (ALO) initiative, Verizon is using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to provide mobile connectivity in emergency situations—demonstrating how the company’s 4G LTE network can expedite disaster relief by helping first responders.
Already, Verizon has completed a series of technical trials in various locations across the country, including one recent test in Cape May, New Jersey, in which a 17-foot, high-altitude drone (flown in conjunction with American Aerospace Technologies) provided connectivity to first responders in a simulated weather emergency.
Following the trial, Verizon deemed its 4G LTE 700 MHz network safe for in-flight wireless connectivity. Test data will also inform future regulations by the FAA regarding drones.
“This latest trial demonstrated how emerging technology combined with wireless networks can improve safety and security,” said Mike Haberman, vice president, Network Operations, Verizon. “A nationwide reliable 4G LTE network is the foundation for the future of mobile IoT in the air.”
These drone exercises are also an example of Verizon’s ambitious commitment to driving forward the development of the Internet of Things (IoT). As early as next year, the company expects to launch its ThingSpace platform to help businesses and developers manage a range of connected devices—including drones.
“By scaling the systems required to connect UAS and UAVs to our LTE network nationwide through our ALO initiative, we’ve set the stage for a wide range of applicable solutions to be delivered via our ThingSpace open development platform across multiple sectors,” said Mike Lanman, senior vice president of Enterprise Products and IoT at Verizon.
In addition to aiding in disaster relief, Verizon envisions a world in which drones can be used in infrastructure (studying dangerous high-voltage lines, for example) and agriculture (increasing water usage via drone aerial imaging).
Although other companies like Facebook and Google are exploring how unmanned systems can increase connectivity in less-developed parts of the world, Verizon’s latest initiative is taking the lead in the United States.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)