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A new unmanned aerial vehicle () will serve as a cell tower for the benefit of users such as first responders. Fenix Group has recently partnered up with Martin , a company that produces “rugged utility drones,” to produce an under-55-lb capable of offering 4G cell service—an accomplishment it calls the “world’s first.”
Dave Peterson, Fenix Group’s president and CEO, said in a press release: “The company sees huge potential for government and industry,” According to the release, quoted on techrepublic.com, the development could mean big savings for US Department of Defense (DoD) networks.
The “flying cell phone tower” would include a subscriber database and an option for billing, which could allow for connectivity in rural areas. The ’s camera system could also stream encrypted video to anyone on the network.
“In the future, soldiers, search and rescue teams, and first responders will have access to video from their phones,” the release stated. “The company’s team even went so far as to enable Internet access so that command centers could access the feed from anywhere in the world.” As a result, this could impact 4.2 billion people across the globe who do not have internet access, according to a 2015 report released by the United Nations’ Broadband Commission, 1.6 billion of whom live in remote locations that have limited ways of connecting to Wi-Fi.
According to the release, the overcame many technical obstacles on a “shoestring budget.” “Power constraints, FAA and FCC authorities, getting the overall payload weight down, and a myriad of problems we didn’t expect all had to be overcome,” said Stefan Schaner, Fenix Group’s chief innovation officer, in the release.
The will first be used for the DoD and first responders, the release stated. After that, Fenix expects that telecom providers, oil and gas companies, and crisis response units will be next in line for the product.