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AT&T Flies LTE-Equipped Drone in Puerto Rico

Flying COW is an experimental technology filling in the network gaps left by Hurricane Maria

Courtesy AT&T

SAN JUAN � In Puerto Rico, 48% of cell sites are still out of service more than a month after the hurricane Maria wrecked telecom infrastructure on the island. More than 30% of Puerto Ricans still lack service, and AT&T recently said its “teams are working around the clock to restore our network,” according to

AT&T is now using an LTE-equipped drone to reconnect some Puerto Ricans who lost wireless service after Hurricane Maria. The company calls it the “Flying COW” (Cell on Wings). Hovering 200 feet above the ground, the drone “can extend coverage farther than other temporary cell sites,” making it ideal for providing service in remote areas, AT&T said.

The drone is deployed in the San Juan area right now, but AT&T said it will soon be relocated “to support additional areas, including the military hospital at Manati Coliseum.” It can provide connectivity in an area up to 40 square miles, according to the company.

“As we work to permanently restore our network, this experimental technology is providing data, voice, and text services to customers,” AT&T said. “This is the first time an LTE cell site on a drone has been successfully deployed to connect residents after a disaster.”