Thursday 20 July 2023

T-Mobile USA's Disaster Response Satellite Vehicles, Drones and COWs

The United States of America (USA) is a huge country. With such a vast area it is no surprise that it experiences a relatively high number of natural hazards and disasters. It is prone to hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, tornadoes in the central region known as Tornado Alley, earthquakes along the West Coast, wildfires in dry areas, and floods in various regions.

It is for this reason that all US operators have to be prepared for any emergency at a very short notice. In earlier posts we looked at AT&T’s Flying COWs (Cell on Wings) and Verizon's Disaster Response COW, THOR. In this post we will look at T-Mobile's COWs.

In a recent news article, T-Mobile detailed their disaster preparedness. Quoting from the article:

Since 2021, T-Mobile has made strategic investments to increase its network hardening footprint by more than 30%, placing fixed backup generators at even more towers, cell sites, network switches, data centers and other critical sites nationwide. These investments also enable the Un-carrier’s emergency response teams to leverage the network in innovative ways. For example, technicians and engineers who monitor weather in the field can remotely adjust sites in real-time to concentrate the signal in impacted areas, providing first responders with more bandwidth for data-intensive activities such as orchestrating rescues. This saves critical time and has minimal impact on customers due to T-Mobile’s network resiliency.

T-Mobile is increasing its inventory of heavy-duty network disaster response vehicles—Satellite Cell-On-Wheels (SatCOWs) and Satellite Cell-On-Light-Trucks (SatCOLTs)—by over 50%. And this year, the Un-carrier is also rolling out new Class Super C RV Command Centers for on-site operations management and new heavy-duty community support trucks that provide device charging, charging supplies and Wi-Fi for anyone who needs it.

The Un-carrier’s fleet already includes Network Emergency Operation Centers, Rough Terrain Dual Mast COLTs (which provide coverage for up to two miles, two-way radio communications, Wi-Fi and emergency lighting), Jeep COLTs, network and community Command Centers, Wi-Fi charging trailers, tow response vehicles and more.

The emergency response team also stages agile solutions like COWs, VSATs (small satellite terminals) and microwave/long-range microwave kits to quickly restore service in impacted areas.

The Un-carrier is looking ahead and innovating on the next wave of natural disaster prevention and response technology. Through an award-winning partnership, Pano AI leverages T-Mobile’s 5G network, ultra-high-definition cameras and a proprietary AI platform to scan and locate early-stage wildfires. With this technology, utility companies, fire authorities, forestry companies and private landowners can detect and respond to wildfires in rural areas faster than ever before.

Earlier this month, T-Mobile and Valmont announced the longest ever beyond visual line of site (BVLOS) drone flight for infrastructure inspection—77 miles—enabled by T-Mobile’s 5G network. During the flight, Valmont demonstrated the capability of a 5G-enabled technology to preemptively monitor infrastructure such as power lines, railroads and bridges in Texas with greater accuracy, helping to prevent malfunctions and infrastructure-related emergencies.

When disasters strike, T-Mobile deploys cutting-edge 5G Search and Rescue (SAR) drones and tethered drones to aid in disaster response efforts. SAR drones can fly up to 75 miles per mission to provide coverage and use infrared and thermal imaging to locate people, especially in unfavorable conditions. And with a 55-pound payload capacity, they can also deliver lifesaving supplies. Connected to power and backhaul resources, tethered drones can fly up to 400 feet to provide nearly continuously coverage to surrounding areas.

You can read the complete article here which contains a lot of pictures of their disaster response vehicles.

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