After Hurricane, Verizon Drone Inspects Cell Towers

Drone-Capture-HEROOne of the world’s largest telecoms is leveraging its growing drone division to help hurricane victims.

Verizon completed a successful inspection deployment of UAVs in the wake of Hurricane Matthew in North and South Carolina over areas beleaguered by heavy flooding.

Launching a quadcopter operated by drone-service contractor Measure UAS, Verizon inspected several wireless equipment nodes to determine repair needs across its regional network.

“We understand how vital wireless communication is to connect with loved ones, reach out for help and start the long process of recovery during and after an event like Hurricane Matthew,” Verizon Chief Network Officer Nicki Palmer said in a press release.

“While we were able to access most sites quickly to assess damage, some sites were not accessible to us due to extreme flooding. We are very pleased that we now have this new tool to add to our already extensive list of preparatory and recovery efforts to help inspect our network assets and expedite recovery time.”

Measure partners with target=”_blank”>DJI to offer inspection service to industries such as mining, construction and agriculture. The company’s drone recorded and transmitted live video feeds to Verizon engineers as it flew over cell equipment in hard-hit areas such as Elm City, N.C. and the Tar River Reservoir.  The UAV helped Verizon technicians zoom in on trouble spots and use boats to navigate to station generators requiring refueling to maintain wireless service.

“More than 99 percent of the company’s cell sites in the Carolinas are up and running serving customers,” Palmer said.

Earlier this year, Measure partner with Verizon to test a drone-driven inspection program in New Jersey which used 3D imaging to enhance cell tower maintenance.

Earlier this month, Verizon announced plans to offer data plans for drone pilots, essentially giving drones the power to receive and transmit LTE-level data.

If the plan comes to fruition, company officials say it will offer multiple applications by embedding a wireless device on a drone or by offering such a device as an add-on. According to The Wall Street Journal, plans may be offered as low as $25 a month for 1GB of data.

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