Feb 16, 2017
AT&T has 65,000 cell sites around the U.S. which require constant maintenance. Some of these cell sites can be towers that are hundreds of feet high and others can be massive stadiums with hundreds of antennae. The site maintenance is accomplished by 15,000 tower technicians. Technicians perform their tasks by risking their lives, physically climbing up the cell towers, or burn lots of time walking around stadiums for entire weeks, testing signal strength. Art Pregler is the Director of Construction & Engineering Mobility Systems at AT&T. The company moved from a drone "exploratory phase" in 2015 to "fully operational" in September 2016, with an entirely outsourced model—hiring 3rd party drone service providers. AT&T employs these drone service providers to inspect their cell towers via aerial photos, videos, photogrammetry, and even machine learning. Ian coaxes Art to reveal how—among other things—using drones decreased AT&T's cell site maintenance times from one week, to just four hours, a 900% savings.