This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

Disaster recovery teams would be upgraded with cellular drones. AT&T, the communications giant, expect it’s Flying COW (Cell on Wings) to achieve life-saving capabilities for its customers.

The company explains on its website:” We’ve used drones to inspect cell sites, measure network strength in sports stadiums, and now we’ve built a Flying COW, a cell site on a drone. It is designed to beam LTE coverage from the sky to customers on the ground during disasters or big events”.

Recently, the company’s drone team completed a successful live test flight of the development, transmitting and receiving high-speed data above a field outside Atlanta.

The drone carries a small cell and antennas. It’s connected to the ground by a thin tether. The tether between the drone and the ground provides a highly secure data connection via fiber and supplies power to the Flying COW, which allows for unlimited flight time. The Flying COW then uses satellite to transport texts, calls, and data. The drone can operate in extremely remote areas and where wired or wireless infrastructure is not immediately available.

Once airborne, the Flying COW provides coverage from the sky to a designated area on the ground. The Flying COW, when it would eventually become operational, could provide coverage to an area up to 40 square miles—about the size of a 100 football fields. The company sees the device playing an important role within the Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) team. It would help transport, deploy, and assist while coping with rapidly changing conditions during an emergency. For example, in the direction of first responders, it could follow firefighters battling a quickly moving wildfire line—keeping them connected while they fight blazes.

It’ll also be applied in order to enhance coverage at big events like music festivals. Used in conjunction with traditional COWs, the Flying COW may allow to extend coverage to the outlying areas of the festival grounds.