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As the number of 5G network sites grows, there has been a heightened focus on network performance by operators as well as safety. Cellular antennas are typically installed at significant heights on sites such as cell towers or rooftops, in order to ensure optimal mobile coverage. Operator field engineers ordinarily carry heavy and expensive equipment as they climb up cell sites to measure the antenna configurations. 

A new automated AI-based solution will offer operators a simplified way to more efficiently manage 5G network cell sites, improve employee safety, and ultimately optimize network performance. The technology can accomplish the task within 15 minutes compared to the several hours it can take for a tower climber.

Samsung Electronics has successfully demonstrated its new drone-based antenna configuration measurement solution for 4G and 5G networks in the company’s campus, according to 

In the demonstration, an engineer on the ground used a smartphone with a remote control application to fly a camera-equipped drone that captured photos of the antennas installed on a building’s rooftop. The visual data was viewable via the engineer’s smartphone and then was transmitted to a cloud server within seconds. The deep learning-based artificial intelligence solution instantly verified the rotation and tilt of the antennas, so that the engineers could determine if the antennas were installed correctly at predefined optimal angles. It took less than a minute to transmit the data and process the results, enabling the engineer to view results on-site in real-time on the smartphone screen. 

Additional features will be added to allow the engineers to remotely adjust the antenna tilts to its optimal position from a mobile device and PC.

The solution’s safety benefits will be especially helpful during site audit and maintenance in the U.S., which often requires two field personnel to be dispatched to a site to audit or adjust the antenna angles — and requires climbs that use more advanced safety training.