Drones: A Must-Have Tool for Telecom

Sep 30, 2019


Drones: A Must-Have Tool for Telecom
By Joe Christian

Drones are a game-changing new tool for the telecom industry that makes inspecting and maintaining communication towers safer and more efficient. Read on to find out how drones take to the sky every day to help millions of Americans stay connected.

Infrastructure is the lifeblood of the American economy, and no piece of infrastructure is more important to daily life and business than the communication tower. With over 300,000 cell phone towers and close to a million total tower sites (including rooftops, water towers flag poles, and billboards) across the U.S.; the effort it takes to monitor and maintain so many locations is expensive and many times dangerous.

Traditionally, an inspection of telecom towers required trained technicians to scale high towers just to put their eyes on equipment. If something needed repair, this would require a second trip. While this is not an efficient workflow, it is also why tower-climbing technicians reportedly have a risk of a fatal injury that is 25 to 30 times higher than the average American worker.  

Before drones, aerial data collection was not widely used in the telecom industry because the price tag for using manned aircraft (like helicopters and planes) was not cost-effective. Also, in many cases, manned aircraft could not safely get close enough to the towers for useful data to be gathered.

Drones are safer than tower climbs

Drones are changing this and unlocking the benefits of aerial data for the telecom industry. Drones can hover close to communication towers and safely inspect equipment with high-res cameras and thermal sensors. This brings added safety to the industry by helping to reduce the need for dangerous tower climbs. Using drones can also significantly cut costs by allowing visual inspections to be conducted remotely or ahead of visits by skilled repair specialists.

This is why everyone, from telecom heavyweights like AT&T to local cell tower owners, is turning to drones to improve the way they inspect communication towers.

Quick Facts on How Drones Benefit Telecom
-Drones dramatically cut costs and project times
-Reduce risk by cutting down on tower climbs
-No downtime. Towers can remain active during the inspection
-Drones collect various data types from photos to thermal images

What Drones Can Do
-Inspect telecom equipment and the tower itself
-Take video and photos for marketing purposes
-Survey and map tower sites
-Conduct onsite inspections before technical staff or remotely via live feed

Case Study
The best way to understand how drones help is by looking at real-life examples. Here is an Up Sonder case study that highlights the ability of drones to be a game-changer for the telecom industry.

Tower Inspection
Situation: A national telecommunications company needed high-resolution aerial photos and videos of a remote communication tower in northern Nevada. The company wanted to conduct a visual inspection via drone before sending a technician to conduct maintenance work.

Up Sonder Telecom Example

Response: Despite the tower’s remote location and high winds, Up Sonder safely delivered all the assets needed for a visual inspection ahead of schedule. This time-and-cost-saving work identified areas of the tower that needed maintenance without the need to have a technician perform a dangerous tower climb.

Drones are changing the way telecom companies gather data and inspect communication towers. To find out how Up Sonder’s network of qualified drone pilots can help you, go here.

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