AT&T Uses Drones to Check Cell Towers

AT&T is using drones to conduct cell tower inspections and find birds' nests that can potentially affect cell coverage. That involves perhaps thousands of technicians every year. But that is going to change, if AT&T gets its way.

Eventually, AT&T says it plans to use artificial-intelligence-equipped drones to help assess problems in the field autonomously, without requiring a technician to manually inspect a tower.

As with all important new technologies, there will be job impact. Without a drone, inspecting a bird's nest could take up to a week and often requires the assistance of an environmental scientist.

The specific use of drones to inspect towers without sending techs climbing up those towers will save on operating costs, part of AT&T’s wider effort to slice such costs as part of its aggressive software defined network initiative.

It will not be popular, but lots of other measures will have to be taken to streamline network capex and opex, to match expected costs with expected revenues. And with competition seemingly growing, revenue is going to get hit. That means costs have to fall.

And one person’s cost is another person’s income. There’s no way around that.
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