Verizon takes flight with airborne LTE operations

Verizon is taking its Internet of Things (IoT) initiative to the skies. The company announced its new Airborne LTE Operations (ALO) initiative designed to provide in-flight wireless connectivity.

“In our view, no one else in the industry has taken the kind of holistic approach of extending the reach of 4G LTE and IoT like Verizon,” said Mike Lanman, senior vice president of enterprise products and IoT at Verizon. “While other market participants are only just now getting into this space by launching trials within a limited geographical footprint, Verizon has taken a leadership role for the last two years.”

As part of the new initiative, Verizon plans to use unmanned drones on its 4G LTE network, provide drone services for first responders and emergency management personnel, launch a new suite of ALO services for developers, provide a new device certification process, and collaborate on aerial long-range apps for beyond-line-of-sight.

Verizon has already been working with the American Aerospace Technologies Inc. (AATI) on testing its aerial platforms, 4G LTE network, and technology and solutions for advance aerial inspection.

“This latest trial demonstrated how emerging technology combined with wireless networks can improve safety and security,” said Mike Haberman, vice president of network operations at Verizon. “A nationwide reliable 4G LTE network is the foundation for the future of mobile IoT in the air.”

Going forward, AATI and Verizon will look into in-flight cellular services for UAVs and BVLOS command-and-control communications, according to the company.

Verizon predicts a future where drones are used to inspect pipelines and high-voltage lines, provide aerial imaging for the agriculture industry, and assist in emergency services.

“By scaling the systems required to connect UAS and UAVs to our LTE network nationwide through our ALO initiative, we’ve set the stage for a wide range of applicable solutions to be delivered via our ThingSpace open development platform across multiple sectors,” Lanman added.

In addition, Verizon is investing in other drone businesses, such as information-management platform provider Skyward, and aerial data and safety platform drone provider PrecisionHawk.

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