Verizon will soon add drones to the list of devices eligible for a data plan.
On Oct. 6, Verizon said that it is working with drone makers to include them on its wireless network. The data plan will cost $25 a month for 1 GB and $80 for 10 GB, according to the Wall Street Journal.
If it pushes through, the data plans will allow drone users to stream video feed captured by the drones mid-flight. Initial use for the data plan will be limited to transmitting data but the service could expand its function, allowing for remote piloting.
AT&T and Qualcomm recently coupled to test this out. Both companies envision a sightless remote drone operation using 4G LTE networks. The initial trials were a way for the two to test how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) would operate. Remote piloting could pave the way for drone delivery services, and it seems the reality is in the offing, given that the White House has approved Alphabet's Project Wing to test large-scale delivery services. The concept of drone deliveries, however, is still widely debated or contested both by pundits and common folk alike.
Drones today are operated by remote control navigation using public airwaves that connect the pilot and the drone. The Federal Administration Association (FAA) requires a drone operator to be within direct sight of the UAV, and the drone should not cross 400 feet above air without special permission to do so.
Connecting a pilot to a drone is a complex interconnection between devices that involve tethering a remote control to a internet-enabled device. Drones throw videos and photographs live to the pilot, but the pilot can do away with all of this and instead choose to view the captured and recorded data later when the drone finishes its course. A data plan impends to cut this setup down into a simple and sensical back and forth between the drone and the pilot, decreasing the need for extra tethering and instead relying on the network to pull the data down.
Wall Street Journal reports that Verizon has been working on the technology for two years, and its strides on the drone front have a name: Airborne LTE Operations, or ALO.
Apart from drone data plans, Verizon is also planning to make use of drones to act as flying cell towers to blast 4G LTE connectivity below, servicing emergency areas. The aerial vehicle will have a wingspan of 17 feet and will be loaded with wireless antennas to act as satellite networks. The drones can provide an internet connection for dead zones post-disaster, and the company is already conducting tests for it, Bloomberg reports.
Photo: Peter Linehan | Flickr