AT&T Uses UAS to Get You Ready – and Connected – for Some Football

AT&T says it is trying out unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at football stadiums in an effort to augment wireless connectivity for fans.

Art Pregler, AT&T’s drone program director, explains in a video from the company that the drone can fly over each seat before the start of a game in order to “model and understand what that user experience is going to be at any seat in the stadium.”

In turn, he explains, the telecommunications company can figure out any changes that need to be made to its distributed antenna system (DAS) network – while reducing the inspection time from four days (via manual inspection) to four hours.

The video features a DJI Matrice 600 hexacopter at the University of Washington’s football stadium, which has approximately 344 antennas, according to Nels Olson, area manager of construction and engineering.

Using its proprietary EchoBOT technology on board a UAS, AT&T says in a recent blog, the company can “track in-stadium networks.”

“The ‘Echo Drone’ can take key measurements on network performance and feed them in near-real-time to our engineers,” the blog explains. “It also helps us conduct inspections and tests more quickly and safely. We’re even able to access parts of stadiums that humans can’t reach without special equipment.”

“What we’re doing is capturing data to make sure the system is up to par,” Olson adds in the video.

According to the Dallas Business Journal, AT&T appropriately headed to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, yesterday morning to run a network test for the Dallas Cowboys’ home base.

In addition, AT&T notes in its blog, the company is officially rolling out its “national drone program,” which will make UAS “available in [its] network to inspect cell towers, test DAS and more.”

The company unveiled its trial launch of its national drone program earlier this year.

“We’re moving toward the future by pushing the envelope on what’s technologically possible for drones,” AT&T said in July.


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