AT&T announced Monday that it is using a drone to give the hurricane-ravaged territory of Puerto Rico critical cellular services so residents and first responders can effectively communicate.
Known as a Flying COW (Cell on Wings), the aerial vehicle can supply wireless connectivity for a maximum of a 40-square mile area. It spans 7.5 feet in diameter, can hover up to 400 feet above the ground and remains buoyant for an extended period of time.
It is certainly not a complete fix, but the technology will help at least a portion of customers in Puerto Rico, as the Caribbean island is still struggling to fully recover due to the immense amount of havoc wrought from Hurricane Maria. Along with food rations and utilities like water and energy, Puerto Rico is also in dire need of cellular service so civilians and groups can communicate and coordinate their respective and collective recovery efforts.
“As we work to permanently restore our network, this experimental technology is providing data, voice, and text services to customers,” AT&T said in an official company blog post. “This is the first time an LTE cell site on a drone has been successfully deployed to connect residents after a disaster.”
The unmanned helicopter is currently deployed in the capital of San Juan, but will soon be relocated “to support additional areas, including the military hospital at Manati Coliseum.” AT&T says exploring “innovating solutions to connect customers, first responders, and disaster recovery teams” is required with such an unprecedented natural disaster like Hurricane Maria, which completely engulfed the island and struck virtually the whole country. (RELATED: Emergency Response Teams Use Drones To Save Lives)
AT&T claims that, due to such efforts, nearly 70 percent of the population in Puerto Rico, as well as 95 percent in the U.S. Virgin Islands, are wirelessly connected with cell service since the storm hit.
AT&T did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for further details by time of publication.
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