SUMMARY: Telecommunications mega-giant AT&T has embraced drones as a viable tool to aerial inspections of its cellular tower sites, and also foresees value in UAV's toward providing network services during times of peak use and disaster. PROBLEM: Cellular tower inspections have traditionally been a relatively expensive, cumbersome, and often dangerous endeavor requiring staff to climb the tower by hand, or approach the site via an aircraft (such as a helicopter).
SOLUTION: Citing increased safety and cost savings, AT&T is now turning to drones to conduct the aerial inspections on its more than 65,000 cellular towers throughout the U.S. The service provider will hire contractors in all 50 states to inspect the towers, and send imagery back to engineers at AT&T officers to conduct the analysis.
"With 65,000 cell sites, we are constantly visiting them to upgrade them by adding radios or capability, and those needs are constant. We envision a lot of opportunity for drones," said Art Pregler, unmanned aircraft systems program director for AT&T, reports Computerworld. "Now that drones are transitioning from the military to the commercial side, we'll see more use cases and adoption coming in," Pregler said. "Currently, workers have been climbing towers, and over time we see drone inspections saving us money."