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Verizon Develops Drone for 4G LTE Service Over Disaster Areas

Telco collaborated with American Aerospace Technologies in the design and construction of the craft

WOODBINE, N.J.� One of the advantages of radio that we broadcasters often tout is our ability to stay on-air, delivering news and information to our listeners, after large local disasters. At the same time, we usually point to examples in which cell networks fail because of local power issues, or over-use.�

At least one of the big four mobile operators must agree with that assessment. Verizon has now come up with something new for post-natural�disaster situations: A drone that provides emergency LTE capabilities as it flies over a disaster area. Verizon collaborated with American Aerospace Technologies Inc. in the design and construction of the craft, which has a 17-foot wingspan, and the capability of flying up to 22,000 feet for 12 to 16 hours at a time, according

Verizon�s network team began work to develop the technology for in-flight LTE operations in 2014 and throughout 2015. In 2016, it evolved its Airborne LTE Operations further by engaging AATI to test connectivity between aerial platforms and Verizon�s 4G LTE network, according It then purchased�Portland, Oregon based Skyward in February, bringing drone operations management to the Verizon Internet of Things portfolio, as part of the company�s �strategy to drive its Airborne LTE Operations initiative, according to the same article.

One naturally wonders what happens next: Will AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint join Verizon, filing the skies over an area that is in trouble with a flock of drones? The 4G LTE nature of the hardware will support data, but what about voice transmission, still supported for the most part on 3G networks?� It seems to me that the big 4 would better serve their users by hardening their land-based infrastructure instead.�