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AT&T Communications

AT&T Thinks Drones Can Fix Terrible Reception At Baseball Games, Music Concerts (marketwatch.com) 114

Cell services are at some of their worst behaviors at music concerts, baseball games and other similar large public gatherings. AT&T thinks it might have a solution for it. In a blog post today, the carrier company announced the idea of building cell extensions into drones and flying them in to handle the large dense traffic demands. From a report:AT&T has dubbed the drones "Flying COWs" -- the COW stands for âoeCell on Wings.â The drones would boost LTE coverage to areas in need of it during occasional large events. They would be tethered to the ground to prevent them from going rogue and flying away. The trial project is part of AT&T's just-launched national drone program, which will focus on how AT&T and its customers can benefit from drones. The program director, Art Pregler, said they wouldn't have to fly too high, perhaps just under the roofline of stadiums or buildings. AT&T also envisions that Flying COWs could provide boosted coverage in disaster response situations, particularly when vehicles aren't otherwise able to drive into the affected areas.
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AT&T Thinks Drones Can Fix Terrible Reception At Baseball Games, Music Concerts

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Flying Stingrays!

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @01:47PM (#52505243)

    ...They would be tethered to the ground to prevent them from going rogue and flying away....

    And they could be tethered to a sky hook to prevent them from going rogue and falling out of the sky onto people.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      or they could pack the equipment into a motorized scaffold type structure with extendable 'arm' to raise the antenna portion of the gear.... throw a couple of those into a 24 foot box van with liftgate........ put one in every major city that has these types of service 'issues'. drive it to the venue, use the venue's cooperation for equipment placement, power, and security....... then pack it back up when finished for the next time. existing technology works wonders, no need to legitimize the use of 'drone

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @01:50PM (#52505263) Homepage

    Aren't we at the point where enough is enough?

    To the /. powers that be, could you please update your systems so submitters can copy and paste with a reasonable expectation that characters like double quotes (") don't get mangled? At the very least, downgrade your editor system so these issues can be seen before the item is released?

    Isn't this supposed to be the premier site for âoepropellerheadsâ? I think that it is long past when annoyance this should have been fixed.

    • ...Isn't this supposed to be the premier site for âoepropellerheadsâ?...

      It used to be... then it got sold.

      • It used to be (... then it got sold)**n

        I've fixed the form of your equation, but I've lost count of how many n is.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      Aren't we at the point where enough is enough?

      Shortly after the new overlords took over this year they kept promising that unicode support was just around the corner. Unfortunately the interaction from the overlords seems to have dropped off in recent months.

    • A few years ago I wasn't able to log anymore because my login name was "Frédéric", I managed to log with Fr&#E9d&#E9ric or something like this, then after another update I was not able again, and I had to email the developper so they changed my login name in the database to Frederic54...
  • Ok Cowguy, here's your chance. Tell us what drones say, or what we say, or whatever. This is it, your big chance!

  • I can't hear you over the sound of the drone hovering over my head!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yes, just what everyone wants, more people shoving more phones up to take pictures of an event they're not even looking at.

  • What we really need is for everyone to get used to drones flying around crowded stadiums.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What if when you go to a music concert, baseball game, or any other large gathering, you watch what you paid for instead of staring at your stupid facebook app all evening? Then there will be plenty of bandwidth available at that location. Problem solved.

    Or if you really can't just stop staring at the screen. Go home! You're ruining it for everyone else.

    • Ever been to a baseball game? Aside from the delays on the field, every inning break has to be two minutes long to insert commercials. There's quite a bit of dead time, with nothing more exciting to watch than infield practice.

  • by nicholasjay ( 921044 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @02:06PM (#52505351)

    Why does it have to be 'drones?' If they are tethered to the ground anyway, why wouldn't balloons be an easier and cheaper solution than a hovering quadcopter?

    • Why does it have to be 'drones?' If they are tethered to the ground anyway, why wouldn't balloons be an easier and cheaper solution than a hovering quadcopter?

      Because America.

    • by kwerle ( 39371 )

      Why wouldn't you just plant another pole? Or put it on existing poles. It's not like these stadiums are mobile.

      • by asavage ( 548758 )
        Yeah exactly. There is a big event at most sport arenas multiple times a week. It should be much cheaper to just install more fixed towers in the area.
        • Maybe, maybe not. I'm I bet there's more paperwork for permanent structures than temporary balloons. There wouldn't be any rent to pay, for one. And servicing something that is only off the ground temporarily might be easier than having to climb a tower. I could see them using this a few times per year, then once a month, then applying for a yearly pass on "whenever we need to" which the powers that be would happily stamp that because they're getting sick of approving the repeating paperwork for a "temporar

    • AT&T dispensed with Occam's Razor ages ago. Someone else suggested they be put on poles. I have another solution: Instead of enhancing LTE services, let's have blocking devices and make it a "No Phon Zone".
    • Quadcopters are noisy, too. And have limited flight-time. I don't see any advantage.
    • Why does it have to be balloons? Most of these events are at stadiums or other places where a simple fixed installation plus an extension cord can make all the equipment work as needed.

  • Hmmm, how to handle large crowds at large, permanent venues? Drones?! Why not just install more permanent hardware?

    It makes sense for emergencies where you have a temporary need though.

    • Hmmm, how to handle large crowds at large, permanent venues? Drones?! Why not just install more permanent hardware?

      It makes sense for emergencies where you have a temporary need though.

      Not really. Drones, except the million dollar a pop military type, have limited flight duration. When you want a bit of emergency communications, you probably want it for something on the order of a least multiple hours. Besides, ATT already has mobile cell towers on trailers. Complete with a generator and a week's supply of diesel. If you need some elevation, put the damned wire on a balloon like a dozen other posters have already mentioned.

      Hell, ATT, do we have to do all of the work for you?

      • by SB5407 ( 4372273 )
        I think you're right. This sounds like marketing and not something from their engineering department.
  • Okay, "why not use a balloon" aside:

    "Flying Cell-On-Wings" - doesn't the "Wings" part cover that? Unless you're gonna go the whole mile and dress these things up like cows and pronounce it "Flying Cow" (instead of see-oh-double-you).

    • "Flying Cell-On-Wings" - doesn't the "Wings" part cover that? Unless you're gonna go the whole mile and dress these things up like cows and pronounce it "Flying Cow" (instead of see-oh-double-you).

      Yeah, it's redundant, but Flying COD (Cell-On-Drone) doesn't quite have the same humor factor.

  • you still have tens of thousands of people broadcasting on the same frequencies and phones still have to filter all that traffic out. how does more towers or drones solve this issue?
    • First, you don't have tens of thousand of people broadcasting. But, the solution comes because the temporary cell sites can use different channels and not be on the same ones that the permanent ones are.
      • but since phones can receive at least a dozen frequencies each, isn't each device filtering out all the traffic in the air around it that isn't destined for that device?
        • but since phones can receive at least a dozen frequencies each, isn't each device filtering out all the traffic in the air around it that isn't destined for that device?

          Of course. Too many channels in use and the phones not being selective enough isn't the problem. The problem is that there aren't ENOUGH channels available.

          Each site has a subset of the band to use. That way it doesn't interfere with surrounding sites. For a temporary, small coverage area (like this use) you can use some of the channels used by the surrounding sites because it is unlikely you'll interfere, and if you do, you can live with it for a few hours.

          Plus, if you can bring in a site that's on a di

  • How about all the cell phone service providers increase the number of towers so you can get a reliable signal in buildings and not have to go outside to make a call. That'd make a lot of customers far happier in the long run than the inconvenience of not being able to use your cell phone at an event where you're most likely not wanting to be bothered with a call at all and are likely to be asked to keep your cell phones OFF.

  • But, I do go to lots of concerts and large events. It seems that this is not a good solution. Most venues I have been to have great signal. The problem seems to be backhaul not enough for demand, or not enough bandwidth (frequency space) in the spectrum.

    Perhaps drones could create micro cells with short range and use a different frequency to comm back to the main tower. However, it would seem cheaper and more prudent just to put a small AP like antenna mounted under certain seats or to other structures

  • Sold save some electricity by giving them a place to land, then. Like, say, a little tower? The drones could just pop out of little alcoves and sit in top of the towers. Or heck! Why bother with the alcoves! They can just sit there the whole time! Maybe even weld them right into the towers so they don't fall off.

    I'm not sure what you'd call these towers with little cell radios on them, though. They don't fly anymore... Just COWs I guess? Oh, I know; you're saving alot of money, so you can call towers with
    • If you only expect to need such a tower for a few days every year - or even a month - it could easily be far more cost effective to use drones. They can be up and down in minutes. You couldn't say the same for a 50 or 100m tower. You also couldn't fix a broken one in the middle of a big event, whereas you could just send up a backup drone.

  • Why not an inflatable pig cell hub? At a concert. It might be just the incentive needed to get Pink Floyd back together again.
  • Drones hovering over peoples head in an area where balls are batted at high velocity. What could possibly go wrong.

  • For the youngsters: a 1977 movie (based on a book) about hijacking and booby-trapping the blimp covering the Super Bowl so that it will blow up over the stadium.
    • I wondered how far I'd have to scroll to see the word "blimp". The obvious solution is to build lighter-than-air craft to do this job, and sell advertising on them too.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @03:38PM (#52506049) Journal
    Here's my solution:
    If you go to an athletic event or music concert, how about you go to an atheletic event or music concert to watch the bloody gods-be-damned athletic event or music concert, and not fuck around on your gods-be-damned phone the entire time! Or is that just too triggering for you people addicted to your gods-be-damned phones?

    Stop walking through your lives with your eyes glued to your stupid phones and actually live your life!
    • by Webmoth ( 75878 )

      Just think of all the Pokemons spawning at the event attended by hundreds of thousands of people that you'd miss out on!

    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

      Here's my solution: ...
      Stop walking through your lives with your eyes glued to your stupid phones and actually live your life...

      by spending your days staring at a computer monitor and attempting to tell the masses how to live their lives instead!

      Well, they'll certainly reform now that some pseudononymous oldster posting on slashdot has shown them the error of their ways.

      Or simply continue to do what they're doing while waiting for you to todder off into oblivion. Like younger generations always have.

    • Here's my solution:
      If you go to an athletic event or music concert

      Those two are not the same thing. Unless you're talking about a music festival where you may be faced with countless boring acts you can't give a crap about.

      A large show for a main band is all good and fine, but many gathers for people have people interested in just a few key items. No one is watching intensely as tennis players sit on the sideline drinking water. No one cares for an athletic event full of people you're not interested in is on while you're waiting for the person you care about. And god forb

  • Little birdie flying high,
    dropped a message from the sky.
    As I wiped it from my eye,
    I thanked the lord that cows don't fly!

  • ...when cows fly.
  • Roving Radiofrequency Interference source; We need to get a FCC rule limiting such mobile Cell stations to 1.5 Watts PEP transmitter power......

  • ... Probably right after the first drone-carried bomb, false-flagged as a communication company's bandwidth-booster, goes off over, or in, a stadium crowd.

    Although why terrorists keep using bombs has always puzzled me, since an aerosol of a nerve agent or disease spores would do far more damage - and the latter might not even be noticed until long after the event.

    Or start with firebombs at the exits. Mass murders with "fire in a crowded venue" have historically had FAR higher body counts that "deranged sho

    • The last terrorist attempt using nerve gas I know of was that one in Japan, that killed 12 people in a jam-packed subway system. The terrorists had high-tech assistance (or they wouldn't have had the nerve gas) and failed to do anything serious about making sure it got dispersed. Dispersal is, I believe, tricky. Bombs are easier to get, lower tech, and are fairly easy to get right.

  • Now drones delivering beer, that's "Stuff That Matters"(tm)

  • ... you'd think the attendees would, you know, actually pay attention to the event. Silly me.

  • That solves the battery problem. With a power feed in the tether the flight time should be virtually unlimited.
  • I was under the impression that these baseball/concert stadiums are relatively permanent structures. Why can't they just mount a few of these on the overhang above the fans/field? Seems simpler, cheaper, and easier to implement. If the cost of the communications equipment is prohibitive, they could just have a few mounts in each stadium and move the equipment around as needed.

  • Let,s see. The cell tower is expensive, so it's not worth building more for the occasional event. The drone costs $2K, so it's cheaper. I get that. And we don't want it to fly away, so we'll tie it to the ground. So much for ease, convenience, and on-the-fly deployment. And, of course, we get the buzzing sound over music concerts, that'll go over great.

    Here's a better idea. Build the drone for $2K, tie a helium baloon to it, and tie the baloon to the venue.

    Here's a simpler idea. Build the drone for

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