This week, the company began using drones from Aerialtronics to inspect its 5,000 antenna masts across the Netherlands. The company deployed the first UAV – an Altura Zenith system – near the Galgenwaard football stadium in Utrecht. Inspecting wireless towers can take up to seven days and involves several workers using cherry-picker trucks – a potentially dangerous occupation.
“We did a pilot test at the stadium in Utrecht where we checked our flat panel antenna masts,” said T-Mobile network specialist Jeffrey Leentjes. “Normally it would take a week with a cherry picker taking pictures and doing checks. In this pilot we flew around the stadium in 15 minutes using HD video on the drone. It was a significant time and cost-saving exercise.”
A company press release notes that the inspection drones offer “a safe, cost-effective and easily deployable alternative to traditional methods. The HD camera, equipped with thermal sensors and transmitters to share the information, produces high resolution images with the cameras even showing the part numbers which may need replacing. Another benefit of drones is that it can often operate in poor weather conditions such as rain and high winds.”
Leentjes said the drone’s pilot flight took about 15 minutes and inspected flat-panel antenna mast around the stadium. “Aerialtronics provides a detachable gimbal where we can switch devices quickly. Next to that safety is important of course. We also wanted a system that is fully approved by the authorities, can fly under different conditions and is robust,” he said. “The fact that we are stepping into drone technology creates an opportunity to look at the development of the service. I think, in telecoms in general, there will be more utilization of drone technology in future. For T-Mobile and Deutsche Telecom it’s very good to get the experience with Aerialtronics at such an early stage.”
Aerialtronics reports that it’s also working with the Dutch government to control traffic via Altura drones.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
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