Christina Cardoza

Sep 6, 2016 9:40:26 AM

AT&T and Qualcomm have announced a partnership to test drones on commercial 4G LTE networks. Together the companies will work on how to safely and securely use drones on commercial 4G LTE and future networks such as 5G.

“Many of the anticipated benefits of drones, including delivery, inspections, and search and rescue, will require a highly secure and reliable connection,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president of IoT solutions at AT&T. “With a focus on both regulatory and commercial needs, LTE connectivity has the potential to deliver optimal flight plans, transmit flight clearances, track drone location, and adjust flight routes in near real time. Solving for the connectivity challenges of complex flight operations is an essential first step to enabling how drones will work in the future.”

At first, the teams will focus on coverage, signal, strength and mobility as the drones’ functions. Eventually, the teams hope to touch on other drone operations such as beyond-line-of-site. According to Qualcomm, wireless technology could eventually be used to help drones provide high-speed mobile support, security and quality of services.

“The trial with a carrier with the reach and technology of AT&T is a significant step in the development of connectivity technologies for small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS), including optimization of LTE networks and advancement of 5G technology for drones,” said Matt Grob, executive vice president and CTO of Qualcomm Technologies. “Not only do we aim to analyze wide-scalable LTE optimization for safe, legal commercial SUAS use cases with beyond-line-of-sight connectivity, but the results can help inform positive developments in drone regulations and 5G specifications as they pertain to wide-scale deployment of numerous drone use cases.”

Trials will be based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Flight drone development platform, and is expected to begin at the company’s San Diego campus later this month.

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