FCC plans to boost satellite connections to smartphones

The Federal Communications Commission plans to set up a new regulatory framework for facilitate hookups between satellite operators and wireless companies, with the objective of connecting smartphone users in remote or underserved areas of the world.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, adopted today, follows up on a string of demonstrations and announcements related to satellite-cellular combinations.

A Virginia-based company called Lynk Global has already shown that its satellite-to-smartphone system works, with the FCC’s blessing. Another satellite venture called AST Spacemobile is setting up partnerships with telecom providers around the world. The heavyweights of the telecom industry are in on the idea as well.


AT&T focuses on down-to-earth drone strategy

Image: Drone at cell tower
A drone hovers near an AT&T cellular tower for an inspection. (Credit: AT&T)

When you think of the up-and-coming players in the commercial drone market, you might think of Amazon, or Google … but how about AT&T?

“AT&T is going to be one of the biggest users of drones in the United States,” Art Pregler, who heads AT&T’s drone program and serves as director of national mobility systems, told GeekWire in an interview.

That may sound like a bold statement – but Pregler is just reinforcing what John Donovan, AT&T’s chief strategy officer and president of technology and operations, said last month at the company’s Shape conference in San Francisco.

Long before Amazon gets its drone delivery fleet in operation in the United States, AT&T will be deploying fleets of robo-fliers across the nation, thanks to regulatory changes that took effect this week.

Because of those changes, AT&T is now able to use unmanned aircraft systems to inspect cellular towers and check cellphone reception in urban areas – including the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium, where the procedure is being demonstrated this week.

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