Nokia, du trial network-testing drones

Drones used for network testing, planning and infrastructure inspection roles

Tags: DronesEmirates Integrated Telecommunications Company Nokia CorporationUnited Arab Emirates
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Nokia, du trial network-testing drones du used drones carrying smartphones to test its network at Dubai International Stadium.
By  Mark Sutton Published  July 8, 2015

Nokia Networks and du have carried out a number of trials to utilise drones in network planning and testing and infrastructure inspection.

The UAE telco used drones from security systems integrator Secutronic for tasks include network testing at Dubai International Stadium, and tower inspections, radio planning and Line of Sight (LoS) testing between radio towers.

Marwan BinShakar, vice president - Mobile Access Network & Operations at du, said: "Innovation is the lifeblood of the UAE's smart city future, and we are proud to successfully demonstrate our network capabilities. Together with Nokia Networks, we are satisfied with the results from the use of drones for network planning and faster optimisation in specific location at Dubai International Stadium, as well as for radio planning and tower inspection which will result in greater efficiency and improved safety."

At Dubai International Stadium in Dubai Sports City, du used drones carrying smartphones loaded with TEMS Pocket software from Ascom Network Testing to fly around the site and gather network performance data, rather than having engineers walk around to different locations at the 25,000 seater stadium.

Test data is collected automatically and sent to a server so that it can be instantly processed at Nokia Networks' Global Delivery Center (GDC) for immediate reporting and any necessary actions to improve network performance.

Telco drones were also used for tower inspections to reduce the number of times technicians need to climb up and down a telecom tower. It is especially important when weather conditions make climbing too dangerous. This method delivers a high-quality site audit with unique and detailed panoramic and top-down views of the lattice tower captured in one pass. Drones can also help supervise the quality of installation by remotely monitoring the installation via wireless video streaming.

The drones were also used for radio planning and Line of Sight (LoS) testing. The engineers knew if a frequency used was impacted by trees, if there was sufficient power to cover the distance, what the simulated latency would look like and what performance over such a connection could be expected. This helped achieve optimal site design, establish a clear LoS, as well as suitable antenna height and site location.

Tony Awad, Head of du Customer Team, Nokia Networks, said: "Drones are becoming a common phenomenon across the world and multiple sectors are embracing the benefits drones bring such as faster deliveries in logistics or delivering emergency services in health care. In the telecoms sector, certain operators have already embraced the use of drones for telecom tower audits, and we are proud to be able to demonstrate multiple use cases using drones with du in the UAE. With the use of drones we continue to bring innovation and automation into our service delivery to make our networks even more efficient and reliable."

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