Following some successful trials, UK-based wholesale connection provider Openreach, is to train a new squadron of drone pilots to deploy fibre to particularly difficult locations such as railway lines.
Currently, the company has a handful engineers certified by the Civil Aviation Authority to fly drones commercially. However, it now plans to boost this number significantly. Openreach said it will use a revamped site near BT’s sprawling Ad Astral technology park, in part, as a new Drone Training Area. The Park, near Matlesham in East Anglia, is home to a fast-growing cluster of over 100 high-tech companies and a number of educational and research initiatives.
Openreach has been developing the use of drones in its business since 2017, chiefly to help reach remote rural areas where traditional vehicles would struggle.
According to Andy Whale, Chief Engineer at Openreach, “Using drones to build the network is something fairly new to our Chief Engineer team, but a really useful option when we’re faced with hostile terrain or a difficult area to cover. They always create a buzz of excitement when we use them, even amongst experienced engineers, and I’m sure we’re going to see them used lots more in the future.”
This is not the first time that the idea of using drones to help boost track-side coverage in the UK has been mooted. Five years ago, the idea of using unmanned aerial vehicles to relay mobile connections to trains to cover so-called not-spots, was one of the more left-field suggestions to emerge when the Department for Transport called for suggestions to improve connectivity along the UK rail network.
Despite the fact that Facebook and Google were among those to follow up with the idea of using drones and balloons to deliver faster broadband signals to outlying areas. BWCS has yet to see any concrete examples of “flying in-fill” helping boost track-side networks.
There are still some “very low price” places left for this year’s BWCS WiFi on Trains Conference on the 27th and 28th of October – reserve here – it’s the same price to attend online or in person http://www.traincomms.com/book1.cfm
The 2020 BWCS TrainComms Conference, which will cover trackside networks, the growing market for passenger WiFi and on-board entertainment, will now take place on the 27th and 28th of October and will be at least partially online – for more information on how to participate in this event, and on the Special Offer for the First 50 Sign-Ups please see www.Traincomms.com or contact Ross.Parsons@BWCS.com .
The 2020 conference (www.Traincomms.com ) is sponsored by Icomera, Nomad Digital, Fluidmesh, RADWIN and Xentrans.
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