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News, Technology, Videos | Jul 14, 2016   

AT&T Promises Concert Drones for Cellphones

In a letter to the public telecommunications giant AT&T mentioned using tethered drones to temporarily increase cellphone coverage at concerts.

While concert drones are not yet a reality, AT&T recently announced the launch of the trial phase of their drone program. The utility already uses drone technology perform aerial inspections of cellphone towers, but they are exploring a wealth of other possibilities including providing LTE coverage at large events.

ATT uses drone on cellphone tower

According to John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President at AT&T Technology and Operations, “Imagine you’re at a concert watching your favorite band, and out of the corner of your eye you notice a tethered drone hovering nearby. But this drone isn’t taking photos or videos of the band. It’s temporarily providing enhanced LTE wireless coverage at the packed venue so you, along with thousands of others in attendance, can simultaneously send photos and videos to share the moment.”

He added, “While this isn’t a reality yet, we expect many different drone uses in the future. That’s why for the past year we’ve been exploring and testing different ways drones can benefit our customers.”

The theoretical drones have been dubbed Flying COWs or Cell on Wings. By connecting Flying COWs to their nationwide LTE network AT&T will be able to capture data and feed it directly into their system.

ATT tests drone

While they say it is for increased phone coverage, drones have an unsavory reputation that leads to a lot of questions about privacy. AT&T even admits that you can use it to record video footage, “when a vehicle is unable to drive to a designated area,” suggesting there might be security applications. Research is still in the early stages so we may have to cross that bridge later, when we get to it.

Meanwhile some artists want to ban smartphones from concerts altogether, because they’re tired of being recorded all the time. The idea is that concertgoers should enjoy the music when attending a live show or festival, instead of acting like the paparazzi, or leaking unreleased songs.

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