AT&T has successfully transmitted its 5G network through the groundbreaking launch of its Flying COW (Cell on Wings).

Ethan Hunt, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Principal Program Manager, AT&T, said “We flew the drone up to about 300 feet, turned on the signal and it began transmitting strong 5G coverage to approximately 10 square miles.”

A COW serves as a cell site on a drone, and AT&T has been using this technology to beam LTE coverage to customers during big events and disasters for years.

“Our focus within the drone world is connectivity. All of our drone solutions have that focus,” said Art Pregler, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program Director, AT&T. “5G brings a lot of new capability to the table. We can connect a lot larger number of devices with 5G. When we put that up, we can share with a larger population.”

AT&T is working to expand the capabilities of its Flying COWs by means of autonomously flying without tethers for months without landing and using solar power to provide secure, reliable, and fast 5G connectivity over wide geographic areas. 

This solution may one day help bring broadband connectivity to rural and other underserved communities across the US and elsewhere, benefiting first responders in a search and rescue mission, among others.

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