Sprint tested its cell tower-on-a-drone technology in Texas last week.
Sprint is taking cell service airborne by mounting lightweight cellular radios to drones.
The wireless carrier said this week it has successfully adapted its Magic Box signal boosting technology to fit on a drone to provide temporary cell coverage up to 10 square miles. The company tested the set-up, which uses a lighter version of the mini cell tower and a drone from CyPhy Works, last week in Texas 30 miles outside of Dallas.
Sprint launched the Magic Box earlier this year. The box, which is the size of a shoebox, sits in your house to improve indoor 4G LTE service using Sprint’s 2.5Ghz spectrum. Unlike other signal boosters, Magic Box doesn’t require a broadband connection. Instead, it uses a dedicated cellular channel to the nearest Sprint cell tower.
Now, Sprint has adapted the technology to use it on a drone to temporarily increase network capacity during special events, like a concert or sporting event, or to restore cell phone service following a disaster like a hurricane, said Günther Ottendorfer, COO of technology at Sprint. Wireless carriers often use cell towers on wheels and other temporary equipment to boost capacity at special events or to provide additional network coverage when permanent infrastructure has been damaged.