Australian telecommunications company Telstra will be using drones to help restore mobile services in disaster-hit communities in northern Queensland this coming storm season.
Telstra’s CEO, Andrew Penn, and group managing director of networks, Mike Wright, witnessed the drones’ capabilities in Cairns yesterday.
Penn says the technology could enable Telstra’s technicians to inspect local mobile base stations quickly and safely after a storm or cyclone.
“This is an example of where we can use technology to improve the customer experience – in this case during a time of need. We understand the importance of being able to tell loved ones you are OK or get your business back online after a storm,” he says.
“The quicker we can check potential damage, the quicker we can fix it and get customers’ services up and running again,” he continues. “Previously, we needed cherry pickers and rigging staff to traverse from base station to base station to conduct inspections; that takes precious time. Now, ground-based staff using easily portable drones can inspect our mobile infrastructure much more quickly and thoroughly even when access tracks to the sites are cut.
“For example, we were able to use a drone to check for damage to our mobile infrastructure following bushfires in Victoria in late 2015, and we will be ready to take to the skies if disaster strikes in northern Queensland this storm season,” Penn adds.
Wright says Telstra has more than 8,500 mobile network sites in the country and will be using 3DR’s Solo drones to inspect the sites.
“We have an enormous amount of infrastructure, operating in many kinds of terrain – from densely populated cities to beachside towns, the outback and rugged bushland. Our technicians go wherever our network is to maintain, inspect and protect every mobile base station – ensuring our customers get the best possible service,” he explains.