Verizon Testing Drones to Deliver Wireless Service to Dead Zonesby
Verizon Communications Inc. is entering the drone race with a remote-controlled plane that has a 17-foot (5.2-meter) wingspan and is loaded with wireless antennas for extending service to areas beyond the reach of its cellular network.
In a test of a simulated post-storm disaster on Thursday, the Verizon drone, which is owned and operated by American Aerospace Technologies Inc., will fly near Cape May, New Jersey, where emergency-management officials will run trials using the plane’s mobile connections. Testing temporary flyover networks for first responders is just one of the applications Verizon is planning for drones, the company said in a statement.
Verizon joins a list of companies including Amazon.com Inc. that are testing how drones can help boost sales. A startup named Flirty delivers chili dogs in Nevada. Google’s Project Wing drops off burritos in rural Virginia as part of an Alphabet Inc. experiment at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. And Facebook Inc. launched Aquila in June, the test of a solar-powered drone fleet designed to fly more than 10 miles above land and beam internet access over a broad territory.
Wireless rival AT&T Inc. has been using camera-mounted drones to inspect cell towers and is also looking at possibly flying antennas over concerts and other big-crowd events to boost service. AT&T is also working to be the carrier that connects to drones, giving operators the ability to fly longer distances and manage flight paths.