T-Mobile Netherlands will become the first European operator to use drones to inspect the condition of its network infrastructure.
The operator said that by using drones, it will save time and money on maintenance of its network. The first use of the drone will take place in mid-July.
Across the Netherlands, T-Mobile manages more than 5,000 antenna locations, more than any other operator in the country. It said ensuring network quality was increasingly important, as more customers switch to LTE. The operator currently has over one million 4G customers.
Lampros Iskos, Technical Director of T-Mobile, commented: “It is about the quality of our network. We are working on an entirely upgraded high-quality network with enormous capacity, which is ready for extraordinary data growth in the future. The stability of our network is essential, and that starts with antenna cables and antennas in perfect condition.”
T-Mobile recently demonstrated how a drone can be used to inspect hardware during a trial at football team FC Utrecht's stadium. The drone was provided by Aerialtronics.
Jeffrey Leentjes, network specialist of T-Mobile, said: “Normally it would take a week of using a cherry picker to get the right photos of the special stadium antennas and antenna masts and perform the checks of these. Now the drone flew around the station and mast in just 15 minutes and we got the right images for our check.”
Drones have also been seen as a means of bringing connectivity to remote areas. At Mobile World Congress earlier this month, Google Product Chief Sundar Pichai said its own squadron of drones would take flight in the coming months, with them potentially connecting rural areas in Europe.