Drones have been utilized in rescue operations countless times, and now they are also being used to provide cell service in hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico.
Although more than a month has passed since Hurricane Maria destroyed the island, 48% of cell sites are still out of service. To help those affected by this tragedy, AT&T is sending LTE-equipped drones, called the Flying COW (cell on wings) to provide wireless service to residents.
The drone can fly up to 400 feet above ground and provide connectivity up to 40 square miles. According to AT&T, it can also “extend coverage further than other temporary cell sites making this ideal for providing service in remote areas”.
The experimental technology is currently providing data, voice, and text services to customers.
“Exploring the capabilities of this technology in wake of Hurricane Maria’s devastation will help temporarily restore connectivity and assess how first responders can use the drone in the future. This is the first time an LTE cell site on a drone has been successfully deployed to connect residents after a disaster,” said AT&T in a statement posted on their website.
The Flying COW is currently deployed in San Juan and will be relocated in the upcoming days to provide additional support in other areas including the military hospitals.