AT&T follows Verizon in tests of LTE network for drones

By Luke Geiver | March 03, 2016

AT&T has joined the list of major communication service providers linked to the unmanned aircraft systems industry. Through a partnership with Intel—the technology company that earlier this year released sense-and-avoid capabilities for UAS—AT&T will test its LTE network as the communications platform for drones flying at high altitudes and beyond visual line of sight. 

“AT&T and Intel will be testing how the network can enable the most exciting business use cases for drones,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president of the company’s Internet of Things Solutions division. “Our LTE network is uniquely positioned to connect industries like delivery, agriculture, construction and insurance. We’re using the network to transfer important information, images and video quickly and efficiently—far beyond the boundaries of short range connectivity.” 

“Intel believes UAVs have great potential,” said Anil Nanduri, vice president of the New Technology group and general manager of new markets at Intel. “We want to grow this market through our collaborations and by integrating new technologies that compute to UAVs.” 

Earlier this year, Verizon partnered with three UAS firms to test the use of its LTE network. “LTE networks have the potential to allow drones to deliver sensor data for processing, analysis and decision-making mid-flight and to receive command-and-control inputs in real-time,” said David Famolari, director of Verizon Ventures. 

Verizon is allowing PrecisionHawk to test its Low Altitude Traffic and Airspace Safety (LATAS) over its LTE network. The LATAS system is capable of connecting airspace safety technologies such as detect and avoid, dynamic geofencing and aircraft tracking to provide “safety as a service” for the drone industry, according to PrecisionHawk.