Verizon said this week it has expanded its use of drones in conducting network inspections.
The carrier, which previously disclosed tests of a plane-like drone for Airborne LTE and its use of a quadcopter for tower inspections, said this week it is also using the latter type of drone to conduct venue inspections.
Verizon said the first venue inspected via drone was the Circuit of the Americas racetrack in Austin, Texas. The carrier reported it used a quadcopter to measure network coverage at the track in advance of a Formula One race scheduled for the end of October. The drone carried two 4G LTE smartphones onboard to test and record data on their connection with Verizon’s 4G LTE network, the carrier added.
Verizon said the ability to use a drone was especially helpful in allowing it to test areas of the stadium where bleachers and spectator areas were still under construction ahead of the event. The carrier said the drone testing took around half the time it would have taken to walk the venue.
The announcement marks the industry move to target and utilize unmanned aerial vehicles.
Like Verizon, AT&T has previously said it uses drones to conduct tower inspections.
But earlier this year, AT&T and Intel announced plans to test drones on the former’s LTE network, and the carrier in July said it was investigating ways to use drones to improve coverage at large events or in disaster situations. With Federal Aviation Administration approval, AT&T said the use of drones on its network could provide a boost to a number of industries that provide or require asset inspections or delivery services, including agriculture, construction, and insurance.
Equipment providers are also getting into the drone game, albeit from a different angle.
Nokia last month unveiled a new wire-free “drop and forget” massive MIMO small cell that can be installed on rooftops via a drone deposit. Nokia in June also announced its Ultra Compact Network solution – which is small and light enough to be deployed aerially via a balloon or drone.