Categories: MobilityNetworks

MWC 2016: AT&T And Intel To Develop Drone Control Networks

Telecoms giant AT&T plans work with Intel to test and develop wireless networks for drones as part of an investment of nearly $10 billion (£6.9bn) into its business services unit.

Its Internet of Things team and its AT&T Foundry research and development centre would work with Intel to evaluate the performance of LTE data networks, which were built to link ground-based devices, when used to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Real-time communications

AT&T said it would test functions including video streaming and transmitting telematics and flight information, and would work with Intel to solve drone issues including safety and security concerns, real-time communications, potential interference with manned aircraft and supporting future capabilities such as control beyond line of sight.

The operator’s LTE network could support drones in businesses including product delivery, agriculture, construction and insurance, according to Chris Penrose, the company’s senior vice president for the Internet of Things.

“Intel believes UAVs have great potential, from inspections, precision agriculture to deliveries of consumer goods and providing emergency disaster relief,” stated Intel vice president Anil Nanduri. “We want to grow this market through our collaborations and by integrating new technologies and compute to UAVs.”

The companies said they plan to demonstrate the Yuneec Typhoon H drone incorporating Intel technology streaming video and telematics using AT&T’s LTE network at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this week.

AT&T said its drone activities are part of a wider investment of nearly $10bn this year into business services, roughly half of its overall capital investment of about $22bn for 2016.

Network expansion

The investment is to be directed at building up AT&T’s network and supporting services such as service delivery and technical support, as well as developing new services, the company said. The investment is intended to deliver services that allow businesses to quickly adapt to changing market conditions, AT&T said.

The network buildout is to include the integration of a fibre network in Mexico into AT&T’s core network, as well as building high-speed networks in cities around the world. The company said it also plans to expand its software-centric networking platform and its secure cloud networking service, and to develop its security consulting services and integrated communications tools.

AT&T acquired satellite television group DirecTV for $49.5bn last year and since then it has sought to draw investor attention to its pay-television and business services operations, and to downplay its mobile phone business, which is losing customers in a price war with rivals T-Mobile US and Sprint.

While pay-television and business services account for two-thirds of the company’s revenues, however, AT&T’s mobile phone business still accounts for about two-thirds of its operating profits.

AT&T said its customers include nearly all the Fortune 1000 companies and nearly 60 percent of the FTSE 100.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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