As if you cell phone data plan isn’t enough, Verizon will eventually offer data plans for drones, too. Verizon’s drone data plans will cost $25 a month for 1GB and $80 a month for 10GB. Verizon says these prices are on par with what customers currently pay for data.
The data plans will allow drones to connect to Verizon’s wireless network to stream pictures, videos and other data back to the ground. Verizon says this might also eventually allow the drones to be controlled remotely, which would be vital to companies such as Amazon, CyPhy Works, Flirtey, Google and others that are exploring drone delivery.
Verizon is also exploring how it can use drones to strengthen its network during emergency situations. The project, dubbed Airborne LTE Operations (ALO), has been in the works for two years already and is very similar to how Facebook wants its Aquila drones to work.
In a demo in Cape May, N.J., Verizon and American Aerospace Technologies tested the idea on a drone with a 17-foot wingspan that acted like a flying cell tower. Verizon says this is just one of a series of successful technical trials it has conducted around the country, involving both unmanned and manned aircraft.
Now, of course, current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations prohibit drones from flying higher than 400 feet and outside a pilot’s sight line. Verizon and others are hopeful, however, the FAA will open the airways to them and, thus, create additional revenue streams for them.
In September 2016, AT&T and Qualcomm began tests to see how well drones fly on commercial 4G LTE networks and future 5G networks, analyzing what the impact will be on future drone operations. The tests analyzed coverage, signal, strength and mobility across network cells and how they function during flights.
Qualcomm and AT&T say this will help ensure drones stay connected to a network during beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights. Once BVLOS flights are reliable, drone delivery, remote inspection, exploration, and other commercial drone uses will be more reliable.
[Source:] The Wall Street Journal