Australia’s largest operator Telstra plans to use drones to remotely monitor its base stations and help quickly restore services in potential disaster-hit communities in northern Queensland during the coming storm season.
Referring to the drones as the company’s “eye in the sky”, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said the technology will allow its technical support team to inspect mobile base stations quickly and safely after a storm or cyclone.
“The quicker we can check potential damage, the quicker we can fix it and get customers’ services up and running again,” he said.
“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.”
The operator has 8,500 mobile network sites around Australia, delivering coverage over 2.4 million square kilometres.
Telstra group MD for networks Mike Wright said drones are revolutionising the way it inspects base stations. “We have a team of specialist techs who fly 3D Robotics Solo drones up to 120 metres high, fitted with sophisticated cameras.”
Telstra is not the only operator using drones. Last month US number two carrier AT&T launched the trial phase of its national drone programme to see how the unmanned aerial vehicles can benefit customers, while earlier this month China Mobile announced plans to team with Ericsson on a 5G drone prototype field trial.