Late in September, we became the first company to provide commercial, drone-based connectivity in the continental United States for our customers and first responders after a major storm [Hurricane Florence]. Our Flying COW (Cell on Wings) supported recovery efforts through the weekend in the Wilmington, North Carolina area.
The Flying COW operated at about 150 feet above the ground and provided wireless connectivity while our teams worked to repair and restore areas of our network damaged by the storm. The Flying COW can extend coverage farther than other temporary cell sites and is ideal for providing coverage in remote areas.
Following our first commercial Flying COW deployment last year in Puerto Rico, we continue to turn to innovative solutions to connect our customers affected by natural disasters. This year we deployed our newest model, with expanded capabilities such as extended flight time supporting 24-hour operations. This version is also easier to fly, easier to transport and is highly flexible, so it can quickly be reconfigured with different equipment, motors and propellers for specific uses. Both our helicopter drone and our newest model can operate during inclement weather, including rain.
Drone deployments like this also give us real-world experience that can be applied to the FirstNet program. This will enable us to bring even more innovative technologies to first responders to help them stay safe and achieve their lifesaving missions.
In addition to our Flying COW, we recently deployed drones to assist in damage assessment and recovery in parts of North Carolina.
Today, our network is nearly fully restored in areas across the Southeast affected by Hurricane Florence. This is just one more way we are committed to keeping our customers connected when they need it most.
Erum Mithani is Public Relations Consultant, Corporate Communications, ATO